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School stops using terms ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ in PE to include LGBT pupils

Jasmine Andersson January 29, 2018
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School children


A school in Glasgow will be scrapping the terms “boys” and “girls” in its dance lessons so that its LGBT pupils can feel included.

In order to include pupils who don’t fit into the “boy” and “girl” binary teachers at Shawlands Academy decided to take one simple step; calling pupils who dance in their classes “leaders” and “followers”.

And thanks to this change, the school has received a £500 grant share their manifesto and strong record on LGBT rights with other schools in the area.

“We had a discussion early on in the group and the common theme was that people felt uncomfortable in PE,” said student Theo Pieczka-Garner, 16, to The Evening Times.

“There was a stigma around changing rooms, a lot of people were feeling excluded by their peers and felt they couldn’t discuss it with the teachers.

“Social dancing was gendered and for pupils who are trans that’s upsetting and distressing.”

After realising that this was contributing to LGBT pupils dropping out of PE, the school’s Head of PE, Sandra Leitch, contacted LEAP Sports Scotland, an organisation working for the inclusion for LGBTI people in sport to find out how she could help pupils.

It was with their help and expertise combined with that of the pupils that they created a manifesto to help include LGBT pupils that would be displayed in the PE department – and thanks for its innovation, the manifesto, which was created with the support of a £500 grant from the school’s Youth Bank – will be used by the charity across other schools in the country.

The school also has five gender-neutral toilets in its building, as well as gender neutral PE changing rooms.

“We have not made a song and dance about it. People know the toilets are there and if they need to use them then they do,” said the principal teacher of pastoral care, Kirsty Rodger.

Speaking to the Evening Times Saxon Anderson of the YouthBank – a UK-wide grant scheme – said: “This was definitely a project we had never seen before and we were keen to get involved and help.

“For someone who is not part of the LGBTI community, there is definitely support for what’s happening with PE changing rooms and in PE.

“All staff have received training in LGBTI issues, which headteacher Ann Grant called a ‘significant’ investment of time but one she believed was vital.

“If the feeling was that the school is not inclusive then work needed to be done.”

Sue added: “This is about making sure we are living up to our values and making sure the needs of every child are being met.”

More: Education, LGBT rights, school, Scotland

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