Lesbian teacher from Stoke Newington School rewarded for combating homophobic bullying

A lesbian teacher from Stoke Newington School has been rewarded for her work to combat homophobia within the education system.

Elly Barnes, a music teacher at the secondary school in Clissold Road, was highly commended as an “inspirational teacher of the year” at the annual Times Educational Supplement awards ceremony.

The accolade is is in recognition of her commitment to educate students and staff about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues

Elly said it was “thrilling” to know the importance of equalities in education are being recognised by teaching professionals.

Her strategies have proved so successful she now shares them with other teachers across the country through her teacher training programme ‘Educate and Celebrate - How to make their school LGBT friendly’.

“There are kids having such an awful time at school just because they are a little bit different - but here we have managed to break through those thoughts, because we bring every diversity to the forefront, to make them feel they aren’t isolated and to make them feel comfortable with who they are,” she said.

“The trouble is in a lot of schools kids laugh at the words LGBT, and a lot of teachers are not brave enough to say these words, because there is still a fear around it.

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“The bravery is the fact we talk about these issues and we face them head on.”

Elly also is the national Schools Representative for SchoolsOUT, an organisation campaigning to make schools safe places for staff and students to be “out and proud.”

Statistics show that where schools implement an LGBT-friendly curriculum they find that homophobic bullying is significantly reduced.