Pretended: Schools and Section 28

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Pretended: Schools and Section 28: Historical, Cultural and Personal Perspectives

Section 28 was a law that between 1988 and 2003 banned schools in the UK from promoting homosexuality as a ‘pretended family relationship’. To mark LGBTQ+ History month and the twenty-year anniversary of the repeal of Section 28 Professor Catherine Lee will talk about her own experiences as a teacher under the law.

Drawing on her latest book, Pretended, Catherine considers the landscape for lesbian and gay teachers leading up to, during and after Section 28. She also reads extracts from her diary during the Section 28 era, to poignantly recall the challenges and incidents affecting her and thousands of other teachers during these fifteen years of state-sanctioned homophobia.

Catherine also reveals how her Section 28 diaries led to her involvement in the 2023 feature film, Blue Jean. She describes how this unexpected opportunity saw her work on set with the film’s cast and crew and attend the film’s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Ultimately Catherine will reflect on how Blue Jean helped her to make peace with Section 28 and provided an unexpected silver- lining to the adversity she faced as a teacher under the law.

Catherine Lee is Professor of Inclusive Education and Leadership and Deputy Dean at Anglia Ruskin University. She is also a National Teaching Fellow an award which recognises the impact of her work in schools and universities towards LGBTQ+ inclusion.

In 2016, working with schools Catherine set up the UK’s first leadership development programme for LGBTQ+ teachers, and has supported almost 100 LGBTQ+ teachers to secure school leadership roles. In 2022, she then implemented the programme in universities for LGBTQ+ academic and professional staff seeking promotion into leadership.

Catherine has been nominated for a number of national awards for her work in education. Her leadership development work was recognised through national and British diversity award nominations in 2020 and in 2019, she featured in the LGBT Pride Power List in 2019 as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK.

She has recently received the award of Member of the British Empire (MBE) in King Charles’ first New Year Honours List for her services to equality in education.

Pretended: Schools and Section 28: Historical, Cultural and Personal Perspectives is Catherine's latest book about LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools. The book will be released on 3 February 2023 and is available to pre-order from Amazon now.

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