While in my lifetime the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals have significantly improved, the anti-trans rhetoric being pushed today demonstrates how the struggle for full equality is far from over. The anti-LGBTQ+ messages pushed by people in powerful positions undoubtedly impact upon kids and teenagers in education. As these messages saturate the media, they can provide encouragement to those who feel it is acceptable to bully others on the basis of their identity. Worse, for those who might be LGBTQ+ it creates an environment where they feel isolated, excluded and fearful of coming out.
While school can be tough at times, I’d hope we all feel it should be a safe and inclusive environment where kids can learn, express themselves and reach their full potential. Schools are doing a great job in fostering a more inclusive culture. However, as our Impact Report this year shows, they need support and expertise to build the confidence and skills to embed a celebration of difference into the daily life of their schools.
At Diversity Role Models the power of our volunteers’ stories told in school help young people empathise with and understand that each Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and other member of our community is a human being. They have enjoyed triumphs and endured defeats but despite the obstacles have come out the other side stronger, happier and more confident. The power of a human story and the connection of empathy when we hear of another person’s struggles can embed better attitudes and behaviours that will lead to a kinder and more inclusive society.
Every story is unique and when told can inspire a young person to feel a little less isolated and a little more hopeful. If you have a story to tell, it doesn’t need to be fancy or extraordinary, just authentic, then why not join the struggle for full equality and volunteer as a role model.
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