Jess Pumphrey, chair of Oxford’s LGBTQSoc, has encouraged members to get involved in ‘Out in Education’, a scheme run by the NUS and Schools Out, which asks young people to go into high schools to teach LGBTQ-related material.
David Wigley, a first-year at New College, was one of those who signed up for the initiative. He cited his own experiences as one of the reasons for his involvement: “I really wanted to be a part of the Out in Education project because I remember just how ignorant the students in my old school were about LGBTQ issues. To be honest I think most of the teachers were too – I can remember one of my teachers referring to transgender people as ‘transvestites’, for example.”
He added: “I think that most of the prejudices people have they have out of ignorance, and so hopefully we can dispel some of that ignorance.
“Also, school can be a pretty isolating experience if you’re different – hopefully seeing confident people like them will give LGBTQ students a bit of a boost.”
News of the initiative comes as a motion went before OUSU Council on Wednesday which, if passed, would mandate the lobbying of “political parties and MPs to support compulsory comprehensive SRE (Sex and Relationship Education) in schools”, which would “cover all types of relationships including same sex relationships”.
LGBTQSoc Chair Pumphrey was supportive of the motion, and also highlighted how Out in Education could help serve similar goals: “I agree that much needs to be done to improve SRE in schools, especially surrounding LGBTQ issues, but at the moment that isn’t Out in Education’s main focus. Our focus is opening discussion on a wider range of LGBTQ topics, such as history and role models. We will however be discussing each school’s policies on equality and relationships with them.
“We’ve had a good number of students showing interest – watch this space.”