Teachers' union urges schools to promote drag queen story hours to help further 'inclusive atmosphere'
The motion claimed drag queen story time 'can help challenge the heteronormative culture'
The largest teachers' union in the United Kingdom passed a motion last week urging schools to publicly support initiatives such as drag queen story time to develop a more inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQ students.
Motion 34, which the National Education Union (NEU) passed during its annual conference in Harrogate, England, is titled "Raising the aspirations of LGBT+ students in our schools," and aims to create spaces for students free from "the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools."
"It is the educational duty of the union to publicly raise the aspirations, hopes and dreams of LGBT+ students and encourage all schools to set up LGBT+ spaces," read the motion, which was proposed and seconded by the union's LGBTQ+ Members' Conference.
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"Initiatives like Drag Queen Story Time and inviting LGBT+ authors into schools can help challenge the heteronormative culture and curriculum that dominates Education," the agenda continued. It also claimed LGBTQ authors are sometimes not allowed in schools and that "[c]reative initiatives like Drag Queen Story Time have come under attack from the far right."
The LGBTQ Conference claimed that many LGBTQ students go through school with little to no LGBTQ inclusion because "there are often no spaces in schools where students can discuss, question or explore their own feelings about sexuality and gender," and that some educators find it difficult to broach such topics.
The motion noted that since the repeal two decades ago of Section 28, which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in teaching or published material in the U.K., some schools have established positive practices by establishing LGBTQ spaces and clubs, but added that such are often isolated.
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In addition to urging schools to "publicly support initiatives like Drag Queen Story Time to develop a more inclusive atmosphere in schools," the motion urged leaders to work with LGBTQ educators to build on inclusive resources such as the Mobilize platform, as well as to promote material instructing schools how to establish LGBTQ-friendly spaces until they become "usualised through practice."
"Nearly 20 years after the abolition of Section 28, too many students still go through an education experience which isn’t LGBT+ inclusive," NEU Joint General Secretary Dr. Mary Bousted said in a statement following the passage of the motion.
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"Inclusive teaching is essential for students who are LGB, trans or non-binary, and has also been shown to bring many benefits for all students. Empowering all young people to develop positive attitudes from their time at school is essential – especially at a time when young people are targeted online with intolerant and divisive ideas from figures like Andrew Tate," Bousted continued.
"The NEU is committed to sharing and disseminating teaching resources and strategies to help members support success and positive school experiences for all LGBT+ students, including trans and non-binary students. Teachers need time and support to develop curriculum resources which are inclusive and representative, and such time for building a creative curriculum is in very short supply."
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"The government is seriously failing to support trans people, which means the creation of LGBT+ spaces and networks in schools and colleges is now more necessary," Bousted added.