Dutch education alliance calls upon schools to start team discussion on sexual diversity
May 11, 2016 - The Dutch national gay/straight education alliance has sent a mail to all schools in the Netherlands requesting them to have a team discussion on sexual diversity. The call is on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (#IDAHOT2016) next week.
Concern about lack of effort
However, the call is also out of concern of developments. In the Netherlands, education about sexual diversity is compulsory for primary and secondary schools since 2012. But research among secondary school students shows the number of students noticing any lessons has only gone up from 6% to 25%. Half of the students say that this was not really a lesson, but only a matter of fact mention by the teacher.
Concerns about impact
The education alliance is also concerned about the lack of impact of Dutch policy. Only teaching about sexual diversity is compulsory. But research shows that teaching itself has limited impact of student behavior. The best scoring curricula have an impact of about 15% behavior change. These are evidence based curricula on other topics. As yet, no LGBT curriculum with such effects has been developed.
Other measures are necessary to reach more impact. The most effective measure is to organize "golden weeks" at the start of every school year. In golden weeks, students get to know each other and a safe classroom environment is created. Part of the golden weeks effort is to set ground rules for social behavior to which both students and teachers agree. Social inclusion of less popular students and marginalized groups need to be included in such explicit ground rules.
Declaration of the willing
Of course, such social competences need to be learned and rules need to be monitored. This requires a team effort. This is why the education alliance calls for team discussions on how to organize a safe school for all. In the mails to schools, links were given to brochures for primary and secondary schools. Each brochure gives 4 questions to discuss in the team and some background information. When schools agree something needs to be done, they are asked to make this clear by signing a "declaration of the willing".