Allow boys to wear skirts at school as gender neutral uniform, says UK MP

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran

Schools should be made to allow both boys and girls to wear skirts as part of a gender neutral school uniform police, a MP said.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said she has ‘no issue at all’ of pupils learning of trans issues, according to HuffPo UK.

Significantly, she revealed a personal motivation for the campaign; her own gender identity.

‘Different options out there’

She said: ‘There was about six months at school when I thought I was gay.

‘I wasn’t gay, but I thought about maybe I was?

‘I imagined what would that be like 50 years ago when that was against god, you were a criminal if you did it in law.

‘So I have no issue at all with putting all the different options out there on the table.

‘Let’s encourage kids to feel like they have ownership of those and what they mean.’

Not everyone should wear trousers

Moran will present her school uniform bill to the House of Commons on 6 March.

she said: ‘We’re not trying to make everyone wear trousers for example, it’s about giving people more choice.

‘Would the boys want to wear the skirts? Maybe they would, and what’s wrong with that?

‘I see nothing wrong with that whatsoever.’

Moran hopes it will decrease the stigma surrounding uniform and gender identity in trans circles.

‘It’s quite an emotional thing for children who are considering transitioning, actually being forced at that point to come out – that’s the way that one family put it to me,’ she added.

Children should be comfortable

Laura Russell, Head of Policy at Stonewall, welcomed the news.

She told Gay Star News: ‘We welcome all efforts to ensure all young people feel included and accepted for who they are.

‘All trans young people should be able to wear clothes that align with their identity at school.

‘Not only that, but all children and young people benefit from being able to wear a uniform they feel comfortable in.

‘We are working toward a world where all young trans people feel able to be themselves at school and are accepted without exception.’

LGBTI friendly schools aren’t always welcomed

Meanwhile, a primary school teacher in Birmingham said he felt ‘threatened’ for teaching classes on LGBTI rights and inclusivity.

Andrew Moffat, the Assistant Head Teacher at the Parkfield Community School, said he has received threats and ‘nasty emails’ for initiating the classes.

One email Moffat received said that he ‘Wouldn’t last long’.

See also

WATCH: This video of a Polish school’s LGBTI prom is bringing us to tears

How teaching LGBTI history could stop bullying in school

School board in Virginia may end its trans bathroom ban months before court case

Author: Josh Milton

The post Allow boys to wear skirts at school as gender neutral uniform, says UK MP appeared first on Gay Star News.

How teaching LGBTI history could stop bullying in school

Harvey Milk at gay pride in San Jose, 1978

When I was student going through elementary school, middle school, and high school, there was no discussion of LGBTI people or events in my history classes. For many other LGBTI adults, their experience at school was the same.

A few states across the United States are starting to address this by passing legislation for LGBTI-inclusive education.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center, however, is going one step further.

They released a set of free, downloadable lesson plans for teachers across the country to start incorporating into their classrooms.

GSN spoke to Terra Russell Slavin, Deputy Director of Policy & Community Building at the Center, and Hala Dillsi, a queer person of color and teacher at Grover Cleveland High School, about this project and its promising power.

Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera is another icon | Photo: Wikimedia

Our history is diverse and important

There are 10 lesson plans total, each with a different theme and subject. They are as follows:

  • January – Black Cat Tavern Riots
  • March – Bayard Rustin
  • April – AIDS Crisis
  • May – Harvey Milk
  • June – Civil Rights
  • July – FAIR Act
  • September – Female Impersonation During WWI
  • October – Coming Out in the 1950s-1970s
  • October – Bilitis and The Ladder
  • November – Audre Lorde

Slavin told GSN these lesson plans and their subjects came from the Center’s own calendar. She added that intersectionality was a component of choosing the subjects.

For Dillsi, it was personal.

‘That’s especially important to me as a queer person of color,’ she said. ‘I wanted to develop something that would help all students. Being LGBTQ is only one part of people’s identity.’

The project has been in the works for some time. According to Slavin, it has two main goals: helping establishing LGBTI-inclusive schools and adhering to California’s FAIR Education Act, which mandates LGBTI-inclusive education.

Dillsi joined the project through the UCLA History Project. She knew it was important and saw it as a good way to use her research and skills. Plus, she added, she’s a bit of a nerd.

People involved with the project, including Dillsi, went to ONE Archives, the largest archive of LGBTI resources in the US, and pulled primary sources to create the curriculum.

A Gay-Straight Alliance school bus at Seattle Pride

A Gay-Straight Alliance school bus at Seattle Pride | Photo: Flickr/jglsongs

How this can help schools become safer

Both Slavin and Dillsi stressed how teaching LGBTI history can help better school environments.

‘Research shows LGBTQ students, if they have adult allies, if they see visible representation, it makes a significant difference in their lives,’ Slavin explained.

Research also shows, however, that schools in the US are not always safe places for LGBTI students.

Slavin thinks these lesson plans can address that: ‘If a classroom is studying the subject in a meaningful way, it may address bullying. It sets up a foundation of understanding that’s not okay.’

Dillsi agreed: ‘It helps everyone – it’s all about humanizing people, and you begin to see people as human beings and understand their experiences. It changes their environment.’

A school classroom

Addressing the needs of LGBTI youth is important | Photo: Unsplash/NeONBRAND

A tool for teachers

In 2017, Calif0rnia became the first state to approve 10 new LGBTI-inclusive textbooks.

Unfortunately, as Dillsi told GSN, not every school can afford new textbooks. This means those lacking funds continued to use old textbooks — without any LGBTI history included.

‘That’s a gap these lesson plans can fill,’ she explained. ‘This can be empowering for teachers. They can shape these lesson plans to their own students and communities. And I hope one day we can create curriculums that cross subjects.’

As for teaching this history, she said it can start as simply as any other lesson.

‘Starting out it may be as simple as defining terms – transgender, two-spirit, lesbian, pansexual. It helps get the students started out on the same page with proper vocabulary and understanding.’

A group of six pupils post in front of a pride flag, holding a display of LGBTI history icons, both past and present

Crieff High’s Equality Group pose with their LGBTI History Month display | Picture: Twitter @HighCrieff

Are students responding?

It’s early yet, but Dillsi has started using these lesson plans in her own classroom. One thing she’s noticed is that all her students ‘perk up’ when she begins discussing the subject.

‘I think it’s because there’s not a lot of spaces that discuss this history. There’s a curiosity there and I’ve noticed that students care about learning how LGBTI people are treated,’ she said.

‘They’ve never had the opportunity to learn about someone like Sylvia Rivera. And to see someone who is working class, who is a person of color, who faced their struggles, it’s relatable. And to see someone with strength and resilience is powerful.’

As for herself, Dillsi said the whole project has been humbling.

‘I get a little overwhelmed because I realize how poignant this is.’

See also

11-year-old being escorted to lessons after homophobic attack and threats

South Dakota passes anti-trans bill banning gender discussion in schools

School kids compete in rainbow bake-off celebrating LGBTI history month

Author: Anya Crittenton

The post How teaching LGBTI history could stop bullying in school appeared first on Gay Star News.

South Dakota passes anti-trans bill banning gender discussion in schools

Poster at the University of Oregon's student government supporting LGBTI students.

Lawmakers in the South Dakota House of Representatives passed an anti-transgender bill on Tuesday (12 February).

House Bill 1108 addresses the discussion of gender identity and gender dysphoria. If it becomes law, it will ‘ prohibit certain gender dysphoria instruction in public schools’.

More specifically, it states that there can be ‘no instruction’ on such topics to any student in K-7 grades.

Several state representatives and senators, all of whom are Republican, co-sponsored the bill. They first introduced the bill in January.

One of the sponsors, Rep. Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids), explained his support of the bill: ‘I’m 36 years old, and I’m still confused as to what woman-ness and man-ness is, so I don’t know why we’d be teaching that to someone in the fourth grade.’

Criticism from teachers and LGBTI groups

Some teachers and advocates testified against the bill. They said it addresses a problem that doesn’t actually exist.

Sioux Falls teacher Tony Martinet said: ‘I think one of the problems with this bill is it implies a lack of trust in our educators to make appropriate decisions about their students.’

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, said the intent of the bill is ‘clearly to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans’.

‘It would send a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they are less than their peers,’ she continued.

‘South Dakota was the first state to introduce anti-transgender legislation that would bar trans kids from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and it seems intent on being on the forefront of discrimination yet again, at the risk being out of step with the rest of the country. We implore the Senate to vote against this harmful legislation.’

The ACLU of the state also condemned the bill.

Libby Skarin, policy director, said: ‘It is this type of hostility toward young transgender people from adult leaders that contributes to the high rates of depression and even suicide among transgender young people in our state.’

See also

North Dakota politicians block LGBTI anti-discrimination bill

More than half of US states are ‘high priority’ for lacking LGBTI equality

Majority of United States schools are unsafe for LGBTI students

Author: Anya Crittenton

The post South Dakota passes anti-trans bill banning gender discussion in schools appeared first on Gay Star News.