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why i won’t stop pushing for lgbtqia+ representation in materials

Global map showing sexual orientation laws (as of December 2020) from IGLA – https://ilga.org/maps-sexual-orientation-laws

This is not going to be an easy read.

If the map above doesn’t spell it out, let me explain further. You can see the map in more detail on ILGA’s website.

The ILGA World State Sponsored Homophobia report (2020) lists 69 countries where consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults in private is illegal. This report goes into some detail about examples of some of the enforcement of these laws, and it is not easy reading. Some of these enforcements include hanging, lashing, imprisonment, wall-toppling and forced intimate physical examinations.

Here in the UK, where we are supposed to be a leader in LGBTQIA+ inclusivity and safety (don’t get me started…), the charity Just Like Us reported in 2021 that 48% of school pupils have had little to zero positive messaging about being LGBT+ in their school in the last 23 months. In addition to this, 33% of pupils say that there are no visual signs of support for LGBT+ people in their school.

46% of LGBT+ pupils witnessed homophobic bullying in their school and 33% witnessed transphobic bullying. 17% of the LGBT+ pupils reported hearing negative language about LGBT+ people on a daily basis.

I thought I would do an internet search for EFL lessons and although I already knew about some, there were others that I’ve just come across.

– I found an EFL video lesson on LGBT+ vocabulary, which I wouldn’t recommend. Inappropriate vocabulary, such as ‘swings both ways’, transgender being a ‘choice’, men dressing as women (‘You should go to Thailand.’). Oh, and frequently telling viewers not to be ‘stupid’.

– On another site, I found this discussion question: ‘Is it easier for a gay to live in a village or a city?’. A gay? Gay is an adjective, not a noun.

– A different one here: ‘What do you think of same-sex relations and the raising of children?’ Well, apart from the fact that ‘same-sex relations’ would mean having sex, I doubt any couple would equate having sex to raising children.

– Another site has a resource that asks ‘Are there certain jobs that tend to be dominated by gay people? If so, why is that?’

– Then, of course, there’s Taboos and Issues – see my blog post about it here.

So, what can we do in ELT?

First, have a look at some of my materials, here. Some are free, others are not. Some look at LGBTQIA+ representation, others do not.

Read Tyson Seburn at 4CINELT. And don’t forget to buy How to write inclusive materials. Read my review of it here.

Talking of books, have a look at The Diversity & Inclusion Glossary by Dr Tony Malone – read my review here. I’d also recommend Diverse Educators: A Manifesto.

There are people out there making a difference – many more than I can list here, but please add links you know for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the comments, or have a look at some of my other blog posts.

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