"We are not yet comfortable with the LGBT+ struggle"

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"We are not yet comfortable with the LGBT+ struggle"

Pride in London is just around the corner but more needs to be done to protect LGBTQ+ teachers in the work place, according to activist Dr Elly Barnes.

Section 28, the law which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools, was repealed in 2003 but she says there is still a hangover of fear within schools that stops teachers from coming out - even to other members of staff and employers. 

“I don’t believe for a second that every teacher that identifies as queer is out as queer within their schools" says Barnes, who founded the charity Educate and Celebrate.

"I was speaking to someone just last week who said to me that they had lost four jobs in a row because they had been outed at school as a gay teacher.”

Through her charity, Barnes travels the country and sees schools as the frontline in changing attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people. An advocate for gender neutral uniform, she wants to see the boy and girl categories removed and replaced simply with multiple options for all pupils. Just last month, boys at Isca Academy in Devon wore skirts to school in protest. Not a protest for gender neutral uniform, but simply because of the hot weather. The school's policy only allowed boys to wear trousers.

“I think kids are the best activists ever," added Barnes. "They see injustice immediately, regardless of whether it is LGBTQ+ related or not, and want to eradicate it immediately.

“It’s that word tradition I really can’t stand. We’ve done a lot of things over the years. We used to drown witches because it was traditional, but we don’t do that anymore because it’s silly.”

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