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Lib Dem Council's schools service to gain new award for LGBT equality work

January 14, 2010 11:36 PM

Cardiff Council's Schools and Lifelong Learning Service is to be awarded a new and innovative quality assurance mark for its performance in meeting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality agenda. Cardiff's Liberal Democrat Council Leader Rodney Berman will be presented with the Rainbow Mark at an award ceremony at the Senedd today.

Cardiff's Schools and Lifelong Learning Service will be the first Local Education Authority to be recognised for the support it provides for LGBT people by leading Welsh equality charity LGBT Excellence Centre Wales at the launch of the accreditation scheme on Thursday, January 14.

Funded and endorsed by the Welsh Assembly, the Rainbow Mark is a new accreditation for businesses and organisations in Wales, similar to the Investors in People and the Positive about Disabled People standards. The mark aims to recognise high quality services and products, provide guidance and support for organisations and businesses, and improve equality for LGBT employees, service users, customers and the LGBT community at large.

Councillor Berman said: "I'm very proud that the Schools and Lifelong Learning Service is to be the first local education authority in Wales to receive this award. It's testament to the hard work undertaken by officers to ensure we deliver a first-class, inclusive service.

"Cardiff has been at the forefront of work to promote LGBT equality in schools and tackle homophobia over recent times. We are setting the pace for other LEAs and organisations to follow."

The Schools and Lifelong Learning Service has demonstrated its commitment to the LGBT agenda through a number of initiatives. Some 30 primary schools across the city have received training on family diversity for pupils while an LGBT steering group for education has been established with a range of partners.

The Council co-ordinates and funds the All Wales LGBT History Month Education Conference and secondary schools are engaged in LGBT History Month through a range of classroom materials that are subject specific, for example, Drama, Geography, Music, English, rather than the issue being tackled in PSE or anti-bullying sessions only.

And Cardiff's anti-bullying strategy, Cardiff Against Bullying, has a specific anti-homophobia approach.

Welsh Assembly Minister for Social Justice and Local Government Carl Sargeant AM will present the award to Councillor Berman.

Cardiff Council's Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, Councillor Freda Salway, said: "Cardiff Council takes the issue of inclusion in our schools and across the whole service extremely seriously. We have a number of initiatives to ensure that the LGBT community receive the support and guidance they need. It's wonderful to see the service's good practice recognised in this way."

In addition to Councillor Berman collecting the Rainbow Mark, several Cardiff schools will be presented with a certificate of participation in the Safe Space programme - a half day anti-homophobia workshop that combines theatre, media and gameshow-style debates. The Safe Space programme is run by the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales and Cardiff Council funded its development and pilot.