Daniel’s point of view – the Birmingham protesters’ ban

Daniel McManus is a 35 year old deaf gay man who is outspoken on his Facebook page on what is close to his heart through personal experiences; LGBTIQA+ equality. He was mainstreamed at Dingwall Academy in Scotland and is now working in finance. He likes health and fitness, cooking, LGBTIQA+ issues (obviously!), international cinema, writing, reading, and outdoor activities.
Daniel wanted to express his opinion on the recent protests at two schools in Birmingham that has been going on for 6 months as some parents and others in the community were concerned that the equality programme that explains different types of modern families being introduced went against their religious beliefs and felt that it promoted LGBTIQA sexuality. Due to harressment against parents and staff at these schools, the council imposed a temporary no protest zone around the schools, and this was made pernament on 26th November by the Birmingham High Court as the ruling Judge Mr Justice Warby stated that the injunction “does not amount to unlawful discrimination against the protestors” and added the protesters had “misunderstood and misrepresented that is being taught at the school” and that the lessons were not promoting homosexuality”

The government has made LGBT education compulsory in the RSE curriculum in all schools as planned from September 2020, so parents will not get a veto then.

THE BIRMINGHAM ANTI-LGBT PROTESTERS SHOULD LEARN FROM SECTION 28
Repealing Section 28 in the early 2000s was one of the greatest achievements for LGBT rights. Enacted in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher, the former UK Prime Minister and the leader of the Conservative political party, the anti-gay legislation banned councils from funding any kind of publications, plays, and films, showing LGBT content while teachers weren’t allowed to teach about gay relationships in schools. One of the reasonings for such legislation, Thatcher asserted, was that “children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life. Yes, cheated.”

Such was the attitude prevalent at the time simply due to ignorance, fear and bigotry. For 15 years, this had a detrimental impact on the lives of LGBT people across the country. As a teenager who was also deaf, I was struggling to comprehend what I was going through when puberty hit. Bear in mind that there was no mobile phones, no Internet or social media. All the information that the public received was through the television, radio or newspaper – the medium most inaccessible to the majority of deaf LGBT people. And the tone of this media at the time was an insidiously homophobic one against which the LGBT community was utterly powerless to fight.

In high school, my peers noticed I was ‘queer’ but I did not understand the meaning of such slur. ‘Gay’, ‘poof’ and ‘bent’ were the other terms that were so casually thrown around the classroom and clearly targeted at me, yet I had no idea what those words meant. Nobody explained them clearly to me, but I had already surmised that they had negative connotations. Despite having eventually realised that I was attracted to persons of the same sex, for the entirety of my school life I still grappled with my sexuality. I was convinced that there was something wrong with me and at one point I didn’t even want to be a ‘poof’.

The endless bullying and mockery eventually took its toll on my mental health. Yet, I was still completely in the dark about what this strange, bewildering part of me was and why it was happening to me, let alone whether there was anyone else out there who was like me. Growing up in the rural Scottish Highland town with no one to turn to for advice, I had an immense hunger for knowledge. So when I finally got a new computer and I was connected to the Internet for the first time, I was astonished by what I came across in cyberspace. The first word I wrote in the search bar was simply ‘gay’. And when the results came up I was utterly overwhelmed. I was only 15 years old.
At 16, I was forced to come out to my father after he discovered a handwritten letter from a gay deaf friend of mine while tidying up my bedroom. I was at school at the time. In the letter there was a lot of discussion about being gay. Suffice to say that my father didn’t take it well. He talked about his fear of gay people, about the dangers of AIDS and ‘queer-bashing’. For these reasons he didn’t want me to be gay. Fortunately however, in the end he eventually came round and accepted me and hugged me.
Now I’m 35 years old. Although it has been almost 20 years since Section 28 was repealed, the wounds from that painful period never really completely healed. Indeed, mental health remains a major issue in the LGBT community, even among the youths today because many teachers are still reluctant to talk about LGBT issues, either because they feel it’s inappropriate or a taboo. Because of this, I was still desperately ignorant about STIs and HIV/AIDS well into my early 20s. I once went to the sexual health clinic in a panic after kissing another man because I thought I had caught AIDS from him. I often wonder what my childhood would have been like had the schools been allowed to discuss gay relationships, whether in sex education (to be fair, even straight sex education was atrocious!) or in casual classroom conversation with any teacher. Incidentally, my guidance teacher once told me to just stop being gay because “it isn’t natural” after I had come to him for advice on how to stop the bullying. As a fully grown gay adult, it’s inevitable for these painful memories to flood back from time to time, especially when I read the news about homophobia.

So when the news arrived that a judge made the decision to permanently ban the protests held by a group of angry anti-LGBT parents outside a Birmingham school, I was elated. I was elated because it shows that Britain has come a long, long way from Section 28. The parents, mainly of Muslim faith, were demanding an end to the equality lessons at their children’s school because teaching children that LGBT people merely exist goes against their religious beliefs. They’ve spent the last 6 months tirelessly promoting hate speech by waving anti-LGBT banners, spreading deliberate misinformation and refusing to be educated about what was actually being taught at the school. Forcing the school to censor a section of society because it doesn’t fit in with their religious worldview is neither acceptable nor a right.
So these parents would do very well to reconcile their religious beliefs rationally in order to be compatible with the secular values upheld by the pluralistic society in which we all inhabit by discarding their outdated homophobic views. And understanding that the only agenda that we LGBT people have for their children is for them to be taught that respect and acceptance, not hate and bigotry, are the only way, and for any LGBT children present to be told that it is okay to be who they are. Mental health, as previously mentioned, is a major problem right now in the LGBT community, and suicide is still blighting lives so these lessons being taught in school are literally a life-saver and that, without a doubt, is a priority. After all, what would these parents, for whom religion they keep preaching to be about love and acceptance, do with their children if they turn out to be LGBT?

Gary Cutmore, an inspiration

Gary Cutmore is an inspiration to the Deaf LGBTIQA+ community as he won the Most Inspirational Student Nurse of the Year in April 2019 at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2019. Student Nursing Times is the biggest nursing magazine outside the United States that has been running for over 100 years since it’s launch in 1905 to assist and inform trainee and qualified nurses of updated information, news and healthcare policies. Gary who grew up in Essex, is now living in Dagenham and is a deaf gay BSL user. I asked him a few questions about his achievement. 

Tell me more about yourself? 

I’m not sure what to say about myself. I’ve won an award – Nursing Times Award for Most Inspirational Student Of The Year. I’m currently studying a foundation degree in Nursing Associate and I’m on my final year. I’m hoping to do a mental health degree as an addition after this course as I hope to work in this field in the future.

Can you tell me why you think you won the award, and what barriers you have had to overcome to get to where you are.

I work hard to achieve where I want to be. I’m proactive and make time to support all patients and staff at work placements and at my current job. I’m told that I’m caring, thoughtful and empathetic. I’m always thriving to learn more about nursing. I guess that people can see that I’m compassionate about my role, and I don’t let my deafness define me. I am an individual student who wants to learn and work hard hence that may be why I won the award. 

How did your patients in your workplace react with you having interpreters adding to your and your patients’ communication?

Some patients were fine with me being deaf and having interpreter aiding the communication between us, although some were confused who to talk towards as they would talk to the interpreter as if they were the student nurse, and ignore me but I keep reminding them with a smile that I’m the student nurse in order for them to focus on me.

What support do you have in your studies?

I have BSL interpreters at university and work placements to give me access in full communication. When in some circumstances, I don’t have a BSL interpreter in place, it can be a challenge especially in a group, but I try my hardest to lip-read and write down the essential information. But I won’t let that stop me to continue to work in my role as a nursing associate. I’m determined and don’t let my deafness stop me from where I want to be.

What’s your background- what school did you go to? Was university your first hearing environment?

I went to mainstream school at Sanders Drapers School, which had a Partially Hearing Unit. I had a Communication Support Worker support me in classroom. There was only one other deaf student in my school, a hard of hearing girl in my year. I went to mainstream college as well. So no, university was not my first hearing environment. Also, I grew up in a hearing family; however, I’m lucky that my mum can sign.

What do you hope to do in your career, would you want to do nursing in a specific area? And what challenges will you face when you go up the ladder in your career, and how do you think you will overcome that? Will you be using Access TWork? 

I want to become a qualified mental health nurse. I already have a job working on a deaf ward in a mental health hospital as a trainee nursing associate, and I’d like to return to my workplace as a qualified mental health nurse to support the patients. There communication is not an issue for me, however I have Access to Work to pay for interpreters to support me with telephone calls to communicate with staff/family and for multidisciplinary team meetings to communicate with hearing staff. Also, I use interpreters to communicate with patients’ families and for some patients who cannot sign. It is challenging when I go on work placements at general hospitals or care homes to support all staff and patients, however I am thankful that I have Access to Work to pay for interpreters as I find it really helpful.

As this interview is for the LGBTIQA+ UK website, can you tell me a little about your coming out experience

Yup, coming out, gosh.. umm I guess I was lucky to have some friends came out before me, so it was easier for me to come out as I had build up my confidence in preparation to come out to them as a teenager. I was 18 years old I think. 

I came out to my mum when I was 20 but she knew all along and was waiting for me to come out. My deaf friends and I used to meet up every Tuesday at a local gay bar where we would meet new people. It was a good community.

And that’s where I met my first boyfriend.

Have you faced any barriers or discimination as a gay man? What advice would you give to deaf people who are in the process of coming out? 

When I was a teenager, I had some teenagers calling me all sorts and that did knock my confidence down, but I ignored them and knew they weren’t my friends. Of course, I felt hurt but I didn’t want to waste my time spending with negative and fake people. I had my own friends – gays and straights who treated me with respect.  My gay friends inspired me because they were out and proud to be themselves and enjoying their lives. They worked hard to achieve many things in their lives and enjoyed their lives instead of allowing people to pull them down. My straight friends accept me for who I am and treat me as an individual – Gary, instead of making my sexuality a label as this is not all who I am.

Fortunately I did not face any discrimative issues in my career so far. 

My advice to people who are caming out or planning to come out one day – be yourself. You don’t have to impress anyone because everyone’s an individual. Everyone’s different anyway. Don’t do what people think you should do.

You do what you want to do as long as you’re happy and comfortable without anypressure.

Ignore the haters.

Best of luck Gary in your career from all of us in the Deaf LGBTIQA community, as you are an inspiration! See the video link below of his interview for the Nursing Times, which has BSL

Follow Gary on Twitter: @garycutmore

Sahera’s film – can you help?

https://youtu.be/o1LRm-ahAgI

My name is Sahera Khan; I am British South Asian Deaf and Muslim My native language is British Sign Language and I am currently a freelance writer, artist/actress, filmmaker and YouTuber. My website is sahera1.tumblr.com.

In summer 2019 I will make a short film called ‘Blind to See’. ‘Blind to See’ is a working title; the genre of the film is drama and it talks about LGBT+ issues. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of D/deaf Muslim LGBT+ minority.

The film would be suitable for a wide diverse audience anywhere from young people to older adults, especially the Muslim audience.

A brief synopsis: Character A and Character B are close family, one of them is LGBT+ and they want to reveal this to the other.

The project will cost £800 and this will be spent on production costs: fees for my time, cameraperson fees, editing fees, travel expenses, cast expenses, possible insurance costs, hire costs for day shoot at a cafe and film festival entry fees.

I am counting on your support for my project. To donate, please go to http://kck.st/2vuX1Wv ,which also includes a BSL video with English subtitles/captions and great rewards if you wish to contribute. The link also includes more information about the project.

If you are unable to contribute financially, please take a moment to share my project news with your communities and networks. I appreciate your time.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at skhan01@live.co.uk