Peer Education in Schools article by Young Person

October 26th, 2010 by
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Our Peer Education Scheme has gone strength to strength in recent years as we regularly deliver workshops raising awareness of LGBT bullying across schools, colleges and other youth setting locally. Following the launch of Stonewall’s new DVD for schools ‘FIT’ one of our Peer Educators tells us why our workshops are so effective and in demand…

From 2003 Allsorts Youth Project have been delivering Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia awareness workshops in Schools and Colleges to both students and teachers in Brighton & Hove and the surrounding County.

Now considering that it is illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender, that schools have a legal duty to protect the emotional, physical and psychological welfare of there students (Children’s Act 1989 & 2004 and Every Child Matters 2003) and that section 28 was repelled in 2003 (although it never actually applied to schools) then you would be forgiven to think that our youth are protected and bullying in schools on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender would be minimal. Unfortunately this is far from reality.

 

In 2007 Stonewall launched a report on the experiences of young lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) pupils in schools and below are some of the findings:

  • 65% of LGB young people had experienced homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools.
  • From which:

o   70% had experienced verbal abuse

o   42% had experienced being ignored and isolated

o   29% had experienced physical abuse

o   12% had experienced death threats

o   10% had experienced sexual assault.

  • 7% of LGB pupils said teachers always intervened when they heard homophobic language being used, however 47% said teachers never intervened.
  • Only 31% of Britain’s schools have policies addressing anti-gay bullying.
  • 94% of teachers had received no training on how to address anti-gay bullying.

As LGBT people ourselves we know how difficult it can be to “survive” through school where we are forced to attend only to be the butt of everyone’s jokes just because we either like the same gender or both or we don’t conform to peoples stereotypes of what a male or a female should be! This is why it is so vitally important to be educating not only our youth but the people with the responsibility to teach them on the impact that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia has on LGBT young people and hence why we deliver our peer education workshops in schools.

Our peer education workshops use various activities that are run by one member of Allsorts staff with a group of peer educators who are all under 25 years old, are either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and the majority of whom have experienced homophobic bullying themselves (some more volatile than others).

The activities we run are designed to show the impact that using homophobic language has on other students regardless of their sexual orientation and how that most of the negative language that is used is based on sexual acts and that when they use this language it’s because they get so engrossed in the difference of the sexualisation they forget to see the young person underneath.

Our peer education workshops have had a positive impact for many young people and as well as delivering these workshops in schools and colleges, we also deliver them in other settings such as youth groups, community groups and other statutory services.

Below is how some of our peer educators feel about our peer education scheme.

•         “When I first came to Allsorts I was a very shy young person, I did not say boo to a goose and now I can talk for England to anyone! With all the experience I had I was able to go for a job as a Young Advisor, I got the job. I have gained a lot of skills whilst volunteering such as leadership skills, more confidence in voicing my opinion and teamwork.” Kerry, 21

•         “I got involved in volunteering for Allsorts because I wanted to turn my negative experiences into something positive (i.e. by sharing my experiences at the homophobia and sexuality awareness workshops). By volunteering for Allsorts I have been able to get my voice, views and personal experiences heard, whilst getting the support I need.” Sam, 24

If you would like any more information about our peer education workshops or would like us to visit your organisation then please contact Allsorts Youth Project on (01273) 721211 or email info@allsortsyouth.org.uk.

By Matt Gardiner Peer Educator