We asked you to nominate the unsung heroes and heroines who make a real difference to life for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in Britain. And nominate you did. Dozens of people emailed The IoS to tell us about Elly Barnes, the teacher who claims the exceptional achievement of eradicating homophobia in her school, and is now helping others to do the same. Some of those who nominated Barnes had worked with her on her “Educate and Celebrate” course for teachers, PGCE students and psychologists, run under the auspices of Ofsted; others are students, past and present.
One former pupil said this woman changed her life. Since 2005, she has been running LGBT History Month at Stoke Newington School, north London, every February. She says: “I’ve had pupils say, ‘Miss, are you trying to turn us gay?’ and I ask them, ‘Do you turn black during Black History Month or Turkish during Turkish month?’.” Barnes “came out” on Teachers’ TV, and says: “It’s ignorance that causes homophobia – once educated, attitudes change. Sometimes it’s a deep-rooted hatred which takes a long time to change. The best way is to show positive role models.” We think she is one.
From The Independent on Sunday, 23/10/11. View the whole article.