Diversity Role Models, a charity launched last year to tackle homophobic bullying in schools, announced today 94.5 percent of students who took part in a workshop with a positive role model said they would treat LGBT people better as a result.
The charity has held workshops for a thousand pupils in eight schools so far this year to encourage pupils to see that being gay or transgender does not mean a person should be feared or bullied, and said written feedback given by the students showed the workshops were having an effect.
Similarly, 91 percent of students filling in the feedback questionnaires after a workshop said they would try to use the word ‘gay’ in a pejorative way less often in future.
Suran Dickson, the Chief Executive of Diversity Role Models, told PinkNews.co.uk the number of students who said they would stop being friends with someone who came out to them dropped from 50 percent at the start of a workshop to 2 percent at the end.
Students had been impressed with the honesty of the charity’s role models and the charity is actively seeking donations to secure further workshops.
Ms Dickson told PinkNews.co.uk: “The response from young people to our workshops has been better than I could have imagined.
“Learned prejudice quickly disperses in the face of honesty, humour and a greater understanding of the issues. We have requests from thirty schools around the country and we are determined to get to them; we know our programme will make a huge difference to the LGBT students in these schools.
“We are lucky enough to have hundreds of role model applications – we now need financial support to get these role models into schools to educate, create empathy and therefore reduce bullying.”
Donations to facilitate more workshops by becoming a Friend of the charity can be made through the Diversity Role Models website.
A teacher at the Elmgreen School in London said: “Diversity Role Models have a simple, clear message to bring to schools across Britain about the consequences of homophobia on the lives of young people. Their workshops opened the eyes of students at The Elmgreen School to the potential damage of perpetuating stereotypes for all students, whether they identify themselves as LGBT or not.
“Meeting role models who explain their experiences and life stories helped many of our students understand the bullying and difficulties that many LGBT people face as they make the journey to adulthood.
“The workshops encouraged our students to express their own views and consider the views of others in a safe environment. No-one was made to feel that their views were ‘wrong’; instead they were invited to consider the effect of prejudice and discrimination on those who suffer homophobia.”
The head of Personal Social Health and Economic education at Conyers School in Yarm said of the charity’s work: “It was fantastic for the students to have the message in more of a ‘real-life’ context from positive and very approachable role models.
“I was particularly impressed at the discussions the presentation helped to facilitate, especially amongst those students for whom the subject may have been one which, in another context, they may have felt uncomfortable in or may have been less mature about.”
For more information, visit diversityrolemodels.org.