It seems particularly striking that during LGBT Pride Month, blatantly homophobic, transphobic and frankly unpleasant bigotry has been allowed to continue, for far too long, at several schools across England – mostly concentrated on primary schools in Birmingham.
We’ve all seen the new stories about heads, senior leaders and teachers receiving verbal abuse because they’ve decided to fulfill their moral, and statutory, duties to teach quality, compassion and fundamental British values of respect and empathy.
In a Sky News report earlier this week Miss Johnson, a primary headteacher in Birmingham, explained how anti-LGBT protesters (many of them not parents of children at the school) had affected the mental health, wellbeing and safety of staff and students. The reaction from the wider sector, and from most of society, has (we hope) been encouraging to Miss Johnson and her staff and to other school leaders similarly victimised. Among these is Andrew Moffat, whose brilliant book No to No Outsiders was a media headline earlier this year.
However, education secretary Damian Hinds, equality minister Penny Mourdant, and the government and DfE in general have been shamefully quiet on this issue. Headteachers must not be put in a position in which they have to defend equality, tolerance and compassion themselves: the government should, and must, have their back on this.
Schools and heads are asked to do ever more to right the wrongs of a deeply inequal, unjust and, sadly at times, intolerant society: and are held to account on this. When a school leader raises their head above the parapet to do this, as Miss Johnson and Mr. Moffat have done, the least they can do is support them.
At SSAT we’re proud to support LGBT+ Pride, and are pleased students and teachers from across the network will be joining us to march in the Pride in London parade in July. So, please, this Pride Month, let principled leaders like Miss Johnson know they’re not alone – either by tweeting your messages of support, or by signing your school up to School Diversity Week, organised by our partners Just Like Us.