This letter was written and sent to Shabana Mahmood MP on 05/03/19 in response to her recent comments regarding teaching LGBTQ+ identities in primary schools.
I am contacting you today as a Ladywood Constituent, a Labour Party member, and as someone who has voted for you in the last two general elections. I am writing in response to your recent comments and statement regarding the teaching of RSE in schools.
I am part of a generation of people who grew up under the devastating impact of Section 28. I have experienced first hand the repercussions of growing up in a system in which I was invisible, and where my existence was either denied or chastised. As a result of this I have experienced long term mental health issues including depression and anxiety and have suffered from low self-esteem and self worth. My experiences are not unique, they are alarmingly prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community, and this is, in part, because we have grown up in a world which has isolated us by making us invisible.
LGBTQ+ identities are not always visibly marked, as such our visibility is at times temporary and continually at risk. In not educating young people and children about our mere existence we have been systematically othered and ostracised. Much of our early experiences are shaped by feelings of isolation, of alienation, a disconnection from ‘normative’ society. From this often stems an inherent fear of rejection, a sense of inadequacy, and shame. Visibility, awareness, and acceptance are therefore lifelines for our communities.
In my adult life I have dedicated myself to providing better representation for LGBTQ+ people in the Midlands and beyond; to start conversations and to bridge gaps between communities. I coordinate Birmingham’s annual festival of LGBTQ+ arts and culture, and am currently touring a project nationwide, aimed at children aged 3-8 and their families, that encourages children to embrace difference, self acceptance, and self-identity by exploring different families and identities.
Whilst I can understand concerns about young people being exposed to inappropriate subject matter, teaching young people about the existence of LGBTQ+ people (and in doing so teaching acceptance of all people regardless of sexuality, gender, age, race, faith, or ability) is an essential part of building communities and creating a safer and more accepting society for all people to live in.
I am reaching out to you today to invite you to meet with me so that we can discuss the need for appropriate LGBTQ+ representation for young people, and so that you can hear the experiences of members of our communities in the hope that you will consider the needs of future LGBTQ+ generations to come.
I look forward to hearing from you,