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Rights in School

Hello, I'm a 13 year old (in year 9 at school ) and I'm a lesbian nobody knows but I am going to tell my parent very soon but I'm very disappointed that my school does nothing to actively support the lesbian / gay / transgender kids and I know that there are quite a few in my year alone and I've been reading up on line on things you can do to raise awareness and I found that in the usa to raise awareness of remain silent for all or part of the school day to the harassment and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and I'm very confused about whether kids in the uk have the right to remain silent for a day during school hours including not answering questions in class? the students involved would have a show a note to the teacher to explain why they will not be answering to the register and stuff like that but does a child/teen have the right to remain silent? I understand that you may have more important questions to answer to but this could help a lot of people feel accepted I would like to make clear that the school is not homophobic and gives every pupil the chance to speak to the school nurse in private if that would help but most kids would rather not have to come out of the closet to feel accepted thank you :)
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Sam

Hi there,

There are different kinds of rights. Some we call basic human rights, others are rights that the laws of our country provide, and there are also rights that places we work or learn (such as school) give to us. Everyone is entitled to basic human rights, but some other kind of rights can be given or taken away because there are consequences to our actions.

Standing up for things you believe in is great. Supporting equality for LGBT people is a good cause. I also think it's important to think about why you are making a stand and what you hope to achieve.

You’ve said you’re disappointed with how the school is not actively supporting LGBT students. I think it would be good to think about how you would like them to show this support. Think about what they have not been doing that you think they should start doing.

The next step would be to think about the best way to challenge them on this. Protest usually comes after someone has taken reasonable steps to try and work things out. If you were to go straight to a protest of silence without giving your school the chance to change things, then they might see you as being unreasonable.

If you have tried to talk to the school and you feel they are still not doing enough then standing up for what you believe in is the right thing to do. However, how you do that is still important to think about. Staying silent for a day is a powerful message, but will it achieve what you want? Breaking the rules is usually a risky tactic. It can put your school in a difficult position. Either they have to give in and risk people breaking rules whenever they don’t like something, or they have to punish you for standing up for what you believe in. They won’t be keen on doing either of those.

You do have a basic right to stay silent if you want to. Nobody should be able to force you to talk if you don’t choose to. Your school, however, also has the right to set rules and ask you to follow them, one of which might be participation in lessons. So although you have the right to stay silent, there may be consequences of this when you’re breaking rules. You would need to decide if it’s worth the consequences and whether you’re achieving what you want.

Think about whether there are other, more effective ways to get your point across without breaking any of the school’s rules. You might find that working in this way gets you to your goal quicker.

I hope this makes sense and helps you work out what you want to do.

Take care,
Sam

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