Olly Alexander praises LGBT+ education in schools, saying 'it will save lives'

Years and Years' Olly Alexander spoke about the importance of the new LGBT+ education scheme in British schools.

Singer Olly Alexander wearing a white tshirt and a dungaree, leaning against a pink gate

Years and Years singer Olly Alexander has said that “LGBT-inclusive education .. can and will save lives.” Alexander was speaking out in support of new legislation which will require British schools to include material inclusive of the LGBT+ community on the curriculum.

Discussing his own experience in the British education system, the 29 year-old Yorkshire native said: “When I was at school there was hardly any mention of LGBT people or our history. It was like we didn’t exist. LGBT-inclusive education would have made a huge difference in my life.”

Over half of the British public also back the new education scheme, a July study has found. The research from nfpSynergy, commissioned by LGBT+ advocacy charity Stonewall, has shown that over 60% of British adults surveyed are in support of LGBT+ education in schools, including discussions about same-sex parents. Among younger people aged 18-24, this figure increases to over two-thirds of the population.

Following a 2017 survey which found that 45% of LGBT+ students (in the UK) experienced bullying in school, Stonewall has been working to deliver LGBT+ inclusive education in over a thousand schools, including over 600 faith-based schools.

A primary school in Birmingham was the centre of a series of protests from anti-LGBT+ groups prior to the summer holidays, due to this teaching. The research commissioned over the summer, however, shows an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the British public to the scheme. Stonewall executive Paul Twocock commented on how “powerful” it was “to see so much of the British public support the new legislation.”

The organisation believes that the summer’s research highlights how much attitudes have shifted since its foundation. Stonewall was created 30 years ago in order to lobby against Section 28, which was British legislation which banned conversations about LGBT+ relationships in schools, effectively forcing many teachers and students to hide who they were.

Although this was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and in the rest of the UK in 2003, by as recently as 2017 a Stonewall survey found that 40% of LGBT+ pupils were never taught anything about LGBT+ issues in school. Keen to make up for this disparity, Twocock highlighted the importance of inclusive education, saying: “We owe it to the next generation to ensure our schools are a place where all children and young people can be themselves.”

Olly Alexander continued in support of the Stonewall Back to School campaign, saying “Every young person deserves an education that shows them it’s OK to just be themselves and that no matter someone’s sexuality or gender identity they deserve respect.”

From September 2020, all secondary schools in the UK will be required to include sexual orientation and gender identity on their curricula, and primary schools will teach about different families, including LGBT+ families.

Ben Saunders, Stonewall’s  Young Campaigner of the Year, commented that this will be hugely impactful, saying that learning about being LGBT+ “can be the difference between deciding to turn up to lessons or not, and even the difference between holding out hope for the future or not.” 

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