For many children and young people living in the UK today, LGBTQ+ rights are a non-issue, just a matter of fact, a given. Within their media streams, young people’s favoured celebrities and public figures are likely to include people of different sexual orientations. Within school communities there will be members of staff who are co-habiting, in same-sex relationships, bisexual, trans or exploring their gender identity. Same-sex parents and trans parents may be among the parent body, and in most secondary schools a minority of pupils will come out as gay or lesbian during their years in the school.
An increasing number of children and young people are being referred to gender identity services and consequently an increasing number of schools are reporting incidences of children wishing to identify as other than the gender of their birth. This is the lived reality of educational contexts in modern England. Schools need to support pupils who are members of a minority group, or who are perceived to be different; these pupils are vulnerable to being bullied and to being made to feel like outsiders and unwelcome.
The Government has placed a duty on schools to prevent extremism and to teach British Values (this came into effect in February 2015). Schools must now ensure that they promote British Values which include challenging extremist views, understanding the importance of identifying and challenging discrimination, and the acceptance of individual liberty and mutual respect. In July 2016, following a rise in hate crime after the Brexit vote, the Government issued Action Against Hate. This plan for tackling hate crime includes the need to challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
If any school is not educating pupils to understand the rights of all people to live freely within their sexual orientation or gender identity without discrimination they would be failing in their duty to prepare their pupils to live in modern Britain.