Stoke Newington school tackles homophobia

Stoke Newington School has made huge strides in tackling homophobic prejudice among its pupils through carefully-devised lesson plans and courses over the last four years. The plan to encourage students to accept and celebrate homosexuality was hatched when music teacher Elly Barnes heard a pupil described a pen as ‘gay’ after it broke.

“We have raised the profile of successful gay people in historical and modern culture, for example Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde, to show that being gay is no obstacle to success,” said headteacher Annie Gammon. “We have talked with students about any form of discrimination being morally wrong and unjustifiable. We treat homophobic remarks with the same seriousness as we treat racist remarks.”

“This year we decided to offer training to other schools and institutions about how they too could take the initiative in appreciating diversity,” said Annie. “I am proud to be head of a school which has as part of its mission the appreciation of diversity and delighted that we are leading the way in educating our own students and others to tackle discrimination. This work does change people’s lives.”

“Brilliant work by Elly Barnes and the school,” said parent and school governor Henry Stewart. Henry has two children at the school and says both have confirmed it is no longer acceptable to use the word ‘gay’ in a derogatory way.

“One [child] said that in the sixth form you can tell the students who have come from other schools because they still do that,” he added. “I have received only positive feedback from parents and others about this work. It is absolutely what the school is about – celebrating diversity and tackling prejudice, to enable all students to fulfil their potential.”