December 2017


  • All the right moves
    The future is never certain in the world of education says Geoff Barton. However, one thing leaders can rely on is that ASCL will continue to protect, defend and advise them. More
  • Preparation is key
    New data protection laws will apply from next year and schools and colleges must prepare for them now says Daljit Kaur, Associate at Browne Jacobson. More
  • Head first
    In a bid to equip young people with the tools to navigate their mental health and build their self-esteem, mental health organisation The Self-Esteem Team shares its top tips for staff and pupils. More
  • Time to speak out
    LGBT+ students need more role models among their teachers if they are to come out with confidence, says Daniel Gray, one of the organisers of new support and advocacy group LGBTed. More
  • Leading character education
    As discussion grows around character education, researchers David Sims and Matt Walker from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) highlight key findings from a new research project into the ways that five pioneering schools are leading character education within their settings. More
  • The gift of knowledge
    In celebration of the 100th issue of ASCL's Leader magazine, we asked senior leaders to share one piece of advice they would give to their younger selves if they were starting their first leadership role today. Here's what they said... More
  • Unfair shares
    Sam Ellis, Susan Fielden and Julia Harnden test out the National Funding Formula (NFF) and find it wanting. More
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LGBT+ students need more role models among their teachers if they are to come out with confidence, says Daniel Gray, one of the organisers of new support and advocacy group LGBTed.

Time to speak out

When I was training to be a teacher ten years ago, I was told emphatically that I should not tell students that I was gay because it would give them ‘more ammunition’.

Comments like this grossly underestimate our young people who, in my experience, are more open-minded and accepting than their parents and many of my former colleagues. Such attitudes also lead to teachers and school and college leaders feeling unable to act as visible role models and, therefore, letting down some of our most vulnerable students.

I believe teachers should lead by example and that’s why, as part of LGBT History Month in February 2017, I finally came out to more than 1,000 students in assembly. No jazz hands, no drama, no hysteria. I simply talked all about how, as a school, we were going to commemorate LGBT History Month and said, “As a gay man, I know how important it is to have positive role models that can support you and tell you it gets better.”

It was a much bigger deal than I had ever imagined. It gained worldwide news coverage, particularly on the BBC, and the response to it has been phenomenal. I have received more than 800 emails and messages of support from all over the world and also from former pupils. One man actually went to the trouble to hand-write a postcard, track down my work address and post it all the way from Texas, purely to thank me and say how moved he was.

I have since decided to use my profile to make a difference for all the young people who are in the same position as I was.

I had a terrible time at school due to being bullied for being gay before I even knew I was: I had wet toilet roll thrown at me in the changing rooms; I had sandwiches thrown at me from the window of the school bus that I was too terrified to board; and I was pushed around, kicked and punched in corridors. I was called names I didn’t even understand, although I was never without a sassy comeback.

‘Something I have to deal with’

My coping mechanism was to fight, to be the best and strongest person I could be, to prove them all wrong. I disrupted the status quo, I was unapologetic and I owned it.

I was told by my teachers that “it’s just something I have to deal with” and my school simply did not know how to deal with it.

These days, with hindsight, I say I was never a victim of homophobic bullying. I was subjected to it on a daily basis but I was never a victim. I have had the strength of character to overcome it and use it to my advantage but without positive role models, so many other vulnerable children are less fortunate.

We are launching LGBTed in spring 2018 to help address the issue. It is a result of months of work by Hannah Jepson from Ambition School Leadership and myself. David Weston of Teacher Development Trust, who also famously came out in 2011, is supporting us on our mission.

Network of LGBT+ professionals

LGBTed will build a network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender and sexual minorities (LGBT+) teachers and leaders, empowering us to be authentic in our schools, colleges and universities, to support our students and to be advocates for increasing LGBT+ visibility in our education system.

LGBTed will use its links with universities to conduct and publish research into being ‘out’ at work in schools and colleges; it will support and empower colleagues to come out at all levels in education and improve school and college leaders’ knowledge of LGBT+ issues in education. There will also be regular conferences across the UK, bringing together LGBT+ teachers and leaders.

LGBTed will speak from experience: being able to be a visible LGBT+ practitioner and witness the tangibly positive impact it has on young people is empowering, motivating and rewarding.

If there is any doubt as to the importance of the issue, Stonewall’s 2017 School Report makes for horrifying reading (

  • Nearly half of LGBT+ students and 64% of trans students are bullied at school.
  • Half of LGBT+ students hear homophobic language frequently in school.
  • More than half of LGBT+ students feel that bullying has a negative effect on their education.
  • A total of 45% of young trans people have attempted to take their own life.
  • A total of 53% of LGBT+ students say there isn’t an adult at their school they feel they can talk to.

By having LGBT+ teachers and leaders who are authentic in the classroom, our young people will see that it is possible to be successful and happy as an LGBT+ person. There is lots more that all teachers and leaders can do to support our LGBT+ students. Ask yourself these questions:

How often do you teach about LGBT+ related issues in your school?
In our school, we incorporated LGBT+ issues into a range of subjects for LGBT History Month and the students found it incredibly enlightening. In maths, they learned the heart-breaking story of Alan Turing, the father of modern computing who suffered cruelly from attitudes to homosexuality in the 1950s. In modern foreign languages, they learned all about the ‘secret’ gay language of Polari. In music, they learned about some of the most iconic music by LGBT+ artists before learning what they all had in common and discussing it.

What is your school’s punishment for homophobic bullying?
You’d be surprised how many teachers don’t know this when I have asked them.

When have you intervened to stop or prevent homophobic bullying or homophobic language?
Homophobic language is often used casually (phrases such as “that’s so gay” are still commonplace) and may be used more out of ignorance than out of malice but is this being challenged and brought to young people’s attention enough?

When have you missed an opportunity to support an LGBT+ student and what could you have done differently?
This may be the student who hangs around in your doorway and doesn’t quite know how to broach what they want to say to you, or this may be the student whose friends dismiss their name-calling as banter.

One day, LGBTed won’t be needed, but, until then, come and join me on a big gay adventure in education and let’s be the visible role models we needed when we were at school.

Nearly half of LGBT+ students and 64% of trans students are bullied at school...

53% of LGBT+ students say there isn't an adult at their school they feel they can talk to.

Further information

LGBTed will be launched in spring 2018. There will be a pre-launch event at Diverse Educators on 6 January. For tickets see See the latest updates at #LGBTed

Daniel Gray
Middle Leader at the Harris Academy South Norwood, South London