Teaching diversity within school

Last month I attended a diversity and equality charter launch. This event involved all of the schools in my local area who came together and created a charter that they all would follow. As part of the event, each school gave their own presentation, covering issues on disability, gender, sexuality, age and ethnicity. The afternoon was so moving to be a part of, the fact that these schools (mostly primary) were covering such poignant topics with a high level of maturity was really special. It’s not like I expected them to be immature, more the fact that I was never taught this when I was younger, making it appear like an adult concept.

But why shouldn’t we teach children about diversity?

I have never had a lesson which specifically looked at these issues, yet it seems a fairly common thing to happen in classrooms now. Maybe if a lesson had been given about disability I wouldn’t have got bullied for something that was out of control. It would never be completely eliminated as bullying is unfortunately going to happen, but if they had a little more understanding it could reduce it. I am not saying that a single lesson would have shaped us into completely different people, but it could have helped.
Interview with Made in Leeds TV about the charter
By looking at these topics it will help break down negative stereotypes which have been formed over many years. It will allow the young people of today to be more open and accepting, but also more educated in other people and the differences they could face. All of the presentations that were given at the diversity and equality charter launch were positive and informative. They all set out to teach people that these differences that we have are not a problem, but merely something that is unique to an individual. The presentations challenged many stereotypes, with one school looking at gender characteristics, showing how girls could like football and that boys were allowed to cry. I hope that by these lessons been implemented now it will minimise bullying and mean people aren’t afraid to ask questions if they are unsure about anything.

From experience, it isn’t adults or my peer group that have asked questions about my disability, although this does happen. It is the 5- year- old little girl in the supermarket who wants to know what I am wearing on my legs, who stares in amazement but not in disgust. It is the 7- year- old boy at the swimming pool who thinks my purple wheelchair is ‘pretty cool’ and is okay with telling me this. The little boy who wants to know how fast I can go in my chair and is not questioning if I 'qualify' to use one. The prospect of this continuing is both exciting and comforting. I know I would rather be asked questions about my disability than have someone who just stared from a distance, but I know not everyone is like this. By understanding that disability is a difference and not a weakness would benefit disabled people and society. 

Otley Town Mayor, Chloe Tear & Local MP
One of the presentations spoke about Autism, referring it to a super power on numerous occasions. This set out to see Autism as a positive and not a weakness. It would be wrong to paint disability as something that was solely positive, as this wouldn't be a true reflection, yet it can have positive aspects! The presentation that was given did display the limitations of Autism, showing how the condition can affect the individual socially or emotionally. Yet the message was about how to overcome these problems, supporting someone who has Autism, and not pitying them for having these areas of difficulties. By portraying a disability like this I hope it will break stereotypes that have been created, one lesson at a time. 

I know we still have a long way to go in making this world accessible for everyone, but even in my lifetime it has vastly improved. I was proud to be part of a community that has recognised this and now has a charter which will continue to be implemented for many years to come. An amazing end to the week!

~ Chloe x

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