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Championing LGBT+ rights

529. Shaun Dellenty

A Deputy Head Teacher who was almost driven to suicide by homophobic bullying has championed LGBT+ rights for almost eight years.

Shaun Dellenty, 48, teaches at a Southwark Primary School. He walked out of state education aged 17 with the intention of taking his own life after enduring years of homophobic bullying. Thankfully, he decided to live and has dedicated his life to promoting LGBT+ rights with the aim of ensuring no one else suffers as he did.

Over Christmas 2010 Shaun wrote the Inclusion for All (IFA) teacher training program, using his experiences as a bullying survivor and a school leader. The training increases confidence amongst school communities and helps shift a school’s culture and ethos to promote LGBT+ inclusion.

After initial success in a number of Southwark schools, including his own, the National College for Teaching and Leadership, Stonewall and the Department For Education wanted to know more about Shaun’s ground-breaking vision and he was invited to speak at workshops and conferences across the UK and Europe.

With no formal funding (and in addition to his full time role as school leader) Shaun delivered training across the UK, in the form of workshops, twilights, one day regional conferences, using social media to spread the word. Shaun also ran training in his own school involving pupils and other staff members to share good practice. Shaun has now worked with most of the leading anti-bullying, teacher training and human rights organisations across the UK, including Amnesty International and Show Racism The Red Card and he has been called to advise on policy at the Houses of Parliament.

In 2014 Shaun met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his training programme became a recommended anti-homophobia resource for Church of England schools. Shaun is currently touring an anti-homophobia schools play called ‘BOY’ and will be working with police and school leaders on the Isle of Man later this year. The training programme was awarded the Southwark Good Practice Award in 2013 and Shaun was voted one of the ‘101 most influential LGBT figures in the UK’ in 2012 and 2013. At the National Excellence in Diversity Awards 2016 Shaun won the ‘Education Champion’ category. In May 2016 Shaun was honoured at Southwark Cathedral by the Mayor of Southwark who presented him with the Mayor’s Special Award for services to education. Inclusion For All became a social enterprise Community Interest Company in March 2016.   

Shaun’s impact has been huge, having trained over 8,900 UK education professionals alone and told his story to around 8,000 students in UK schools. He has worked with all of the main teaching unions, teacher training providers, national anti-bullying organisations, child protection organisations such as the NSPCC in addition to providing training for non-educational organisations such as banks, police and NHS.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Shaun’s anti-bullying programme ‘Inclusion for All’ is having a fantastic impact on increasing awareness of homophobia in schools. By equipping teachers to speak to children about these issues he is helping to make sure future generations will not face the prejudice that he and many others in the LGBT community had to endure. I am delighted to recognise Shaun as the UK’s 529th Point of Light.”
Shaun said:

“To be recognised as a Point of Light by the Prime Minister is an unexpected and incredible honour. I am heartened that this potentially lifesaving work is being recognised at the highest level and I trust this sends a clear message to all our school leadership teams that all of our amazing young people have a right to be safe and successful in our schools, regardless of identity or orientation; there can be no exceptions. Bullying and prejudice of any kind has no place in our learning communities and all young people have a basic Human Right under the Convention of Rights of the Child to be educated safely; this includes those who are LGBT+ and indeed those who are bullied for being perceived to be ‘different’ in some way. The Equality Act and OFSTED framework thankfully support this stance but many schools lack confidence and training in tackling these issues positively. Diversity without inclusion for all leaves young people vulnerable and until schools are safe spaces for everyone my work will continue”.

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