The International “School’s Out” conference was held on the 18th of October and it was focused on creating a safer school environment for LGBTI+ students by increasing the knowledge of teachers and people working in education. The conference was part of the “Schools OUT” Project, funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union.
About the project “School’s OUT”
The School’s OUT (SOT) project, funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, covers the topic of the difficulties faced by LGBTI students in the four participating countries: Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria. The project team aims to train teachers and support school staff to successfully implement inclusive policies in schools through a holistic approach. In the long term, this will lead to improved mental well-being for all pupils as a result of implementing policies for a safe and inclusive school environment for all.
The International Conference took place on 18 October 2022 and brought together participants from across Europe to discuss improving inclusion in education. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the ‘Inclusive Schools Programme’, which aims to support schools in creating more inclusive policies and practices for their LGBTI students and staff.
In the opening part of the conference, Marije van Huffelen introduced the School’s Out project and the Inclusive School Cycle programme. Participants had the opportunity to learn in detail about the specially designed programme, based on an analysis of good practices and the current situation in schools. The Inclusive School Cycle programme includes a series of training tools and information on their application in schools and is available on the website www.schools.bilitis.org.
The first panel discussion during the international conference included representatives from the School’s Out partner countries Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy and Portugal. The theme of the discussion was raising awareness in conservative environments, discussing challenges, good practices and lessons learned from the implementation of the Inclusive School Cycle. The discussion was attended by Gloria Filipova (Bilitis) Maraye van Hufeleep (Savaria), Sara Soares (ILGA Portugal) and Andrea Ruggeri (Centro Risorce LGBT ) and moderated by Lili Dragoeva (Bilitis).
The second panel discussion took place after the lunch break and the theme of the conversation was identifying opportunities to promote inclusion in schools at EU level. The panellists were Peter Dankmeier from the Global Alliance for LGBT Education (GALE), who is presenting the UNIQUE project (https://www.uniqueproject.eu/), and Maria Aisha Boumediene from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth and Students Organization (IGLYO) and Anna Paeshuyse.
In the final part of the conference, guests had the opportunity to hear the voices of LGBTI+ students. Prior to the start of the conference, personal stories of LGBTI+ students’ experiences were collected and guests were able to hear them performed in an emotional and impactful way by professional actors.
The event was funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union (2014-2020) under Agreement No. 856680. The content of this article reflects the views only of the author, and is entirely his own responsibility. The European Commission accepts no responsibility for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.