Barnardo’s launch free resources to help teachers educate children about LGBT+ relationships and identities

Barnardo’s, has launched free lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBT+) resources to help teachers better educate children about same-sex relationships and gender and sexual identities.

The free LGBT+ resources aimed at primary and secondary schools have been launched by the UK’s largest children’s charity to sit alongside their existing Real Love Rocks resources, which teach children and young people about healthy relationships and awareness of child sexual exploitation.

Teachers attending Barnardo’s Real Love Rocks training sessions had called for support as they felt unsure what they were allowed to teach about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans relationships. Many teachers said they would not feel confident in their response if a child raised a question about gender or sexual identity in the classroom and wanted more LGBT+ inclusive curriculum content for sex and relationship education classes.

The new animations and classroom activities have been developed to help address these gaps and are tailored to be age appropriate, educating children at primary school level about the different make up of families in society, with the aim of dispelling stereotypes about gender and sexual identity.

The secondary resources focus on encouraging teenagers to understand their feelings and create awareness of different sexual and gender identities, as well as explore the additional vulnerabilities LGBT+ young people may face from sexual exploitation.

Real Love Rocks Services Manager, Nic Dunn says: “We are pleased to launch our new free resources, which will help teachers and professionals to be more inclusive of LGBT+ identities within lessons.

“Often same sex relationships and trans people are completely invisible in sex and relationship education classes and resources. The failure to discuss and create awareness of different families, gender and sexual identities can have a negative impact on children and young people, increasing the feelings of isolation, lack of acceptance and bullying.

“We know that these issues may encourage young people to seek support via adult spaces, which can put them at risk of sexual exploitation. Teachers often feel confused about what they can and can’t teach or say, especially when they have to deal with issues like homophobic bullying, so we hope these new interactive resources can help to create more awareness and support teachers to tackle these issues in an age appropriate way.”

A young transgender person supported by Barnardo’s and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust has shared their story of how they suffered and isolated themselves from society for more than half of their life, after thinking at only eight years old that there was something wrong with them because they knew they weren’t like the other boys.

They said: “If I had learnt at an earlier age that it is ok to be transgender and that there are people like me, I would never have had to suppress an emotion I had hidden for a majority of my life.

“Because of this, I believe that in both primary and secondary schools, there should be lessons that can be incorporated with PSHE that should show children that it is ok to feel like this.

“Otherwise young people like me could go through their whole adolescence hating themselves for things that really are okay. I am the evidence that what is going on in our schools at this moment in time is not acceptable and if this helps even one young person like me, I believe it will be worth it.”

To download the free LGBT+ resources or to find out more about Barnardo’s existing Real Love Rocks education materials, click here:

This case study has been written by a teenager who is currently being supported by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), through Barnardo’s and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

My Transgender Journey

“My gender is not what I look like but what I emotionally engage with. In the transgender community I’m what is known as male to female transgender pre-transition. This means that at birth I was assigned to the gender male but ever since I was very young I identified as female. On the topic of being young, let me tell you a story of my experience of being transgender.

At around the age of five I started to notice something wasn’t right when I realised I wasn’t like the other boys. Over time this feeling began to grow and by the time I was in year three at the age of only eight years old in my head I began to think there was something seriously wrong with me.

I became so anxious about this feeling that I began to isolate myself from other people, because I was so scared about the chance of someone finding out. This was because I had never been told that it was ok to feel this way.

By year 4 (aged 9), it got so bad that I forced myself to do things that society sees as masculine. An example of this was joining the school football team.

Also, because I was so anxious and generally socially awkward, I was bullied quite badly. But that is another story for another time.

Eventually, after passing the 11+ I instantly decided that I should go to an all-boys school because that way I knew that it would be near impossible for me to do anything about the fact that I am transgender.

When year 7 came I was nervous as ever. Being around the number of boys that were there made me realise I had to become as masculine as I had before, in order to seem remotely normal. I even joined the year 7 rugby team so I could prove my masculinity, not just for others but also for myself.

But of course, due to the fact I was spending all my time trying to be my polar opposite, I started struggling with depression and anxiety. I would get panic attacks on a relatively regular basis, self-harmed and had suicidal thoughts, which eventually led to an attempt on my life earlier this year. Because of all of this I found it almost impossible to talk to other people.

Every day I would go to school by myself, go to break and lunches by myself and go home by myself. I was never invited to people’s houses or parties, and throughout the whole of this I only had one friend. He was, and still is one of the best things about my life.

We met at primary school and we shared all our likes and hates and he was the only person I was ever able to truly talk to. Sadly, recently he moved, but we do try to see each other as much as we can.

It was only Christmas last year when I then met my closest friend to date, who is also transgender but female to male. He told me that it is ok to feel how I feel and that started the course of me coming out to my parents, leaving school and starting home tuition and getting in contact with a gender identity clinic.

I know there is a long way to go, but the fact that I would never have dreamed of me even still being alive, let alone having the potential to see my future is beyond incredible. This story is one of many that you are able to prevent.

If I had learnt at an earlier age that it is ok to be transgender and that there are people like me, I would never have had to suppress an emotion I had hidden for a majority of my life.

Because of this, I believe that in both primary and secondary schools, there should be lessons that can be incorporated with PSHE that should show children that it is ok to feel like this.

Also I believe that primary and secondary schools should spread awareness about the LGBT+ communities through events in LGBT awareness week and of communities and activities that they can engage with.

For example, gay pride and other pride events allow anyone to experience a feeling of true acceptance from a community of people who accept young people for who they are, not the labels that society puts on them.

Otherwise young people like me could go through their whole adolescence hating themselves for things that really are okay.

I am the evidence that what is going on in our schools at this moment in time is not acceptable and if this helps even one young person like me I believe it will be worth it.

I am not the only one like this. I am the embodiment of thousands of stories shared by those who have felt worthless due to the emotions that they have felt.

Please help me, help us by putting these stories to an end and begin the process of becoming a society based on understanding and acceptance of others and ourselves.

Based on what I have said, allow me to suggest some actions…

♦      Incorporate awareness of LGBT+ in PSHE lessons

♦      Hold an event for LGBT+ awareness week

♦      Talk about it in form times

♦      Make someone available to talk to students about it, if they want to

♦      Give advice to families if necessary, so they can start their understanding with guidance from you

There are many young people who need your help and you can affect their stories.

But this is my story, thank you for listening.”

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