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Ian Timbrell

LGBTQ+ Diversity - Relationships and Sex Education - Inclusivity in the Curriculum

'We want to do something but we don't know were to start!'

When it comes to addressing topics around LGBTQ+ inclusion and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools, it can all feel like a bit of a minefield. What you need is a trusted and experienced guide to help you work out the best approaches for your whole school community.

This is where award-winning advocate, trainer and teacher Ian Timbrell comes in.

After realising that his primary children were openly discussing issues around gender and sexuality, fuelled by social media, Ian realised he had to address the topics that others might shy away from. As he did, other schools in the area got in touch asking for help with their approaches to LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion. It was at this point that he realised there was a tremendous and pressing need to help schools and organisations across the UK navigate the many complexities of these important topics.

First taking a sabbatical from school, he finally took the plunge in 2023 to commit to this new role full time. And, as we welcome Ian as one of our newest Associates, we would like to say we are pleased that he did.

Ian has lived experience of the issues he addresses and has talked openly about his school days in 1980's Bridgend. 'I was kicked, punched and spat at and there was no support at school. It was dreadful,' he says. 'I was made to be ashamed of who I was'.

Eventually such pressure took its toll on his mental health and it is his story, combined with his later experience as a teacher and deputy head, and his up-to-date knowledge of both the research and the ever-changing legislation, that make him such a compelling, practical and important speaker.

On why it is important to discuss what the letters LGBTQ+ stand for, he says, 'After also talking to many colleagues, I realised that as an education community, we generally need to improve our understanding of these terms, why they are important and how we should approach the use of them in schools'.

On whether all primary schools should embrace Gay Pride events he says, 'It is essential for schools to reflect on the underlying purpose and intention behind such an event. It is not enough to simply follow a trend or engage in performative gestures of inclusivity'. Instead, he encourages schools to ask deeper questions about their approaches to diversity and inclusion. 

On whether a staff member should 'come out' as gay in school, he suggests, 'A teacher sharing that they are in a same-sex relationship should not be an issue and can be a powerful tool that can enable the staff to become role models to LGBTQ+ pupils and help others broaden their horizons.' The law is on our side here and schools should have policies in place too.

Since setting out on his own, Ian has been incredibly busy working with primary and secondary schools in Wales and across the UK. Whether it is an organisation that wants to act but is scared of 'getting it wrong' or one making great progress but wants to know what else it can do, Ian always works in a way that is supportive, understanding, useful and bespoke.

In October 2023, Ian won the Education Category in the Mental Health and Wellbeing awards where he was described as ‘inspirational’ and a 'powerful force in improving LGBT+ inclusion across the UK'.

We have to agree with that judgement and we know you will too. 

Ian was a knowledgeable and incredibly engaging trainer. The day flew by

Brilliant and very well presented

Relevant, needed, thought provoking and fun

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
In a world where you can be anything, be yourself!

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