“A stunning book.” Out now ‘Celebrating Difference-A Whole School Approach to LGBT+ Inclusion’ by Shaun Dellenty.


‘Essential and valuable reading for every teacher and school leader.’ Peter Tatchell

‘A huge stride towards genuine organisational change.’ Dr Joseph Hall

‘An outstanding book.’ Professor Jonathan Glazzard

Celebrating Difference is an inspiring handbook for LGBT+ inclusion, aimed at all primary and secondary teachers and leaders. Written by Shaun Dellenty, internationally celebrated lead in LGBT+ inclusion in education, it is filled with practical advice to enable schools to bring about organisational change to ensure the safety, success, mental health and wellbeing of all pupils and staff.

This ground-breaking book examines the roots and impact of identity-based prejudice in schools, drawing on Shaun’s own experiences of homophobic bullying and his subsequent career as a teacher and school leader. The core of the book is based on Shaun’s award-winning training programme Inclusion For All, endorsed by the Department for Education, presenting an effective approach to LGBT+ inclusion at a whole-school level. This includes practical strategies to eradicate prejudice, prevent bullying, embrace diversity and improve whole-school outcomes such as attendance and attainment, as well as mindfulness techniques and ideas for INSET training sessions and school assemblies.

Case studies and interviews with pupils and teachers who have experienced the Inclusion For All process and unique research insights from Dr Joseph Hall, University of Leeds, demonstrate how the strategies work in practice. Clear guidance will also enable schools to comply with Ofsted and statutory equality legislation, and help them to teach children about British values, basic human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Written with warmth, humour and compassion, this is a must-read guide for all teachers and school leaders who wish to promote inclusion, celebrate difference and ensure safer futures for all young people.

Reviews of ‘Celebrating Difference’

This is an outstanding book. It is highly engaging, and humorous in places. The discussion of the author’s personal experiences of exclusion adds to the richness of the text. There is very clear guidance offered to schools on how to implement a whole-school approach to LGBTQ+ inclusion. Questions are used effectively to promote thinking and reflection. This book is a major contribution to the field and the author does not shy away from contentious issues. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. – Jonathan Glazzard, Professor of Teacher Education, Leeds Beckett University

So many older LGBT+ people will be able to relate to Shaun’s personal journey; it’s why we need to constantly be reminding people of the ‘not so long ago’ past. Celebrating Difference is written beautifully with honesty and passion to make LGBT+ education understandable for everybody, without any barriers or prejudice needing to be in place. Once children have the knowledge and understanding, they will lead the way to becoming the LGBT+ educators of their siblings, mothers, fathers and other family members. – —Dr Carl Austin-Behan, LGBT+ Advisor to the Mayor of Greater Manchester

Once read, never forgotten; to put it simply, this book should be required reading for anyone wanting to have children or to work in a profession that involves either caring for, or educating children and young people. Plus it should also be required reading for any present or future education or ministers and faith leaders!

As the Inclusion Manager of a secondary academy, this book has made significant positive impact upon ourselves as individual practitioners, upon our young people and indeed upon our whole school community.

The author, in the early chapter highlights just how difficult being born LGBT+ can be by recounting his life story, making an unequivocal case for the need education about diverse human identities in early years, primary and secondary education contexts in the process. He highlights how close he came to ending his own life due to a lack of role models, open dialogue about diverse identities and homophobic bullying at school, within his own family and as a result of societal rejection in the 1980s. This early section is a tough, yet ultimately uplifting read as the author ultimately rises above challenges he faces in order to help other young people from experiencing similar rejection and prejudice. The author goes onto summarise the origins and impact of his highly regarded and award winning Inclusion For All work, work which I believe precedes the currently highly controversial ‘No Outsiders’ project in Birmingham.

The remainder of the text is essentially a handbook for facilitating cultural and organisation change ostensibly within learning communities; that said I have previously worked in finance and with a few tweaks the process described is so thorough and systematic it could really be applied to any business context. What really makes the process effective is the foundation upon which the author builds his approach- he does not tell the reader what to think, not does he pretend to have lived a life without experiencing prejudice himself- instead he spends time revealing the roots of his own prejudices in order to encourage readers to explore and ‘own’ their own. The author pro-actively encourages the reader not just to read the book, but to explore their responses and reactions to the text as they do so. In this way the book stimulates deeper thinking and lasting change.

The book is structured around a six-tier for personal, cultural and organisation change and throughout the author is able to draw upon evidence of the proven impact of his work and approach from school and university case studies. The author has also had the unprecedented experience of helping an entire education community through a process of change in the form of the Isle of Man and its brilliant to read about the impact this work has had.
I bought a copy of this book for all our staff, it had not only enabled us to cut through the misconceptions, prejudice, anxiety and fear that often exists around LGBTQ inclusion in schools, it had also made us a more cohesive and compassionate school community. We hope to invite the author in to meet with students at some point; someone like Shaun Dellenty who has undoubtedly changed our education system for the kinder and who has helped improved the lives of countless young people is the kind of role model many of them sadly lack in our increasingly selfish and divisive world.

Thoroughly recommended. (Verified Amazon Review)

I was recommended this book by a friend in teaching who’d attended one of the author’s talks. I have a son who was horribly bullied at school for being ‘different’. They used the usual gay slurs (although he isn’t gay) simply because he didn’t like a lot of the so-called ‘boy’s activities’ – not a fan of football, instead he wanted to play netball because it’s similar to basketball, but obviously that’s a ‘girl’s game’. He was also keen on quieter activities like reading and colouring, rather than running about and being boisterous, and it all led to him being picked on and being depressed and not wanting to go to school. Luckily we worked through it and he’s done well, but many kids aren’t so fortunate. This book is a great way for schools to tackle this sort of bullying – from a place of compassion. It encourages us to look at what makes us all different from each other and then to celebrate that and not be frightened or judgemental, and in that way it is relevant and applicable to help tackle all manner of bullying. I can’t recommend this book enough, and my copy will be sent on to my son’s old school for them to utilise so that hopefully no other child in their care will be bullied like my son, just for being a bit different. (Verified Amazon Review)

An honest and clearly written text which offers practical strategies to enable schools to move forward towards creating an inclusive environment. I initially bought the book for my own personal reading and have now ordered other copies for my school. (Verified Amazon Review)

Recommended. Celebrating Difference is essential and valuable reading for every teacher and school leader – a groundbreaking book to help make our schools safer spaces for all young people.” –  Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

“This is not a book, it is a philosophy, and one which I wish had been in place when I was growing up. We can only truly celebrate difference when we face prejudice head-on, including our own.” –  Lord Michael Cashman CBE, Founder of Stonewall

“Shaun Dellenty’s whole-school approach to LGBT+ inclusion is a huge stride towards genuine organisational change. Regardless of the stage you or your school are at, this accessible and stimulating book will be highly relevant and of much value.” –  Dr Joseph Hall, University of Leeds

“I thoroughly enjoyed reading Celebrating Difference and consider it a very timely book. This text uses a clear structure to move through the personal experiences of the author, through education practice, to a consideration of the issues from a more theoretical view. It situates LGBT+ within the context of inclusive education as well as providing practical approaches to the development of practice in schools. I shall certainly be using this text with both undergraduate education students, as well as student practitioners reading for their Masters in Inclusive Education.” –  Tristan Middleton, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Gloucestershire

“The style of writing is excellent – there is warmth, humour and compassion, along with a deep level of understanding. This is a must-read guide for all teachers and school leaders.” –  Parents in Touch

As teachers, we are guiding and supporting young people who are still trying to work out their place in the world, as well as figuring out who they are, as people. This is a responsibility that we should not take half-heartedly, and recognising ‘difference’ in our students should help us recognise that prejudices can be potentially disempowering. In the book, Shaun goes on to inform about the realities of homophobia and the negative impact that results from ignorant prejudices, including mental health issues, bullying, and hate crimes.

Chapter 3 contains a powerful exploration of pride and prejudice, with Shaun challenging the reader to think about what we think, and to acknowledge that all of us are, to some extent, fearful, biased and prejudiced about certain things. Our biases are formed from many channels, including family, friends, media and our experiences within education. Shaun challenges us, as educators, to think about our own biases and where they may have been formed, and whether they are justified. Such consideration can help us all develop as caring people, although facing up to some of our judgement calls might be difficult to overcome, exploring where they come from can be a major step in challenging the innate perceptions we hold.

The book continues with consideration to expectations and misconceptions, advocating for a whole-school approach to LGBT+ inclusion, involving sustained organisational change. The book supports schools in developing discussions about issues that individuals may feel uncomfortable talking about, offering guidance and support to ensure professional training in LGBT+ provision is possible to include everyone within the community. Additionally, the book points out cross-curriculum opportunities where LGBT+ can be discussed to develop a culture where the language and issues faced become the norm, and everyone feels comfortable discussing in a safe environment.

In essence, the book just calls for celebration and dissemination of the differences we all hold – it’s what makes us all unique. The book also contains a useful ‘Glossary’ of terms associated with LGBT+ that can also challenge ignorance or misunderstanding. The challenges of LGBT+ are clearly a passion for Shaun, and so they should be, and they should also be for all school, leaders, teachers, adults, and our students. Groups have faced prejudice and barriers to opportunities in life, and society is starting to wake up to realise that the challenges faced have simply not been fair. This book points out another group who need special care, attention and love in helping them accept and enjoy the individuals who they are, without fear of being proud of who they are, and who they can become. (UK ED Chat)

This is a timely, well researched and pertinent book from author and writer Shaun Dellenty. Covering a wide range of issues aimed at all primary and secondary teachers.  It shows ways of making the classroom (and the whole school) an inclusive and compassionate place for everyone in it with plenty of useful and colourful resources including detailed teaching notes, posters, certificates etc. Dellenty is an independent education trainer and speaker who has been working to positively prevent LGBT+ and identity-based prejudice in the UK education system since 2009.

This book reflects his experience in this field and also his ability to listen, develop and refine ideas that have been tried and tested in various educational spaces. This guide brings it all together in one place, giving anyone teaching young people in the UK a clear, practical and well informed guide to this important area of teaching. (GScene Review)

n the past year our school has been working hard to become more LGBTQ+ friendly, so when I saw this book had been published, I jumped at the chance to read it. When I started reading it, it became clear to me that I am not the intended audience of the book. It is clearly written for senior leaders; as author Shaun Dellenty explains, this needs a top-down approach. Having said that, he goes onto to explain that all stakeholders need to buy into the process, and this book will certainly enable me to do this. It is an important book, well written and informative. It does not assume any prior knowledge, and takes you step by step through the stages needed to ensure your school is open and inclusive to all.

Dellenty starts the book with a very open and honest chapter describing the bullying he faced both at home and school due to his sexuality, through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. It is a difficult read, but important as a scene setting as to why the stages in the rest of the book need to be followed.

The book is comprehensive in its scope. It takes you through the barriers you will encounter and how to work through them; how to deal with the whole range of stakeholders – governors, parents, teachers and pupils; how to audit your provision before creating a strategic plan; and then implementing it. It then helps you reflect on and evaluate your progress.

All this is done in a clearly organised and easy to follow manner. Although it is obviously a lot of work to undertake, this book explains how to do it and, more importantly, why having an inclusive community that celebrates diversity is worth all the work.

I will be passing the book onto Senior Leaders at school, and hope this is what they have been waiting for.

Reviewed by Abbi McInnes, school librarian

Celebrating Difference
By Shaun Dellenty, Bloomsbury Education, 2019

The self-professed goal of this book is to support schools in creating lasting cultural change for LGBTIQ inclusion. Through personal observations and anecdotes, along with more than 10 years of research, Dellenty looks to a future in which schools are increasingly focused on sincere wellbeing and dignity.

This book highlights a positive and open approach to facilitating meaningful change. This approach looks beyond “glossy teacher resources” and superficial “check-list” responses to bullying or exclusion, instead adopting a six-tier process.

He encourages staff to establish an authentic sense of school attitudes towards LGBTIQ identities, moving to the strategic development of a “robust … vision for school improvement and a realignment of school ethos and vision”.

He notes that schools need a philosophy predicated upon ongoing training, global citizenship, compassionate relationships, and inclusive behaviour policies in order to truly build an environment inclusive for gender and sexually diverse students. These are the kind of structural goals that benefit all students. At times, the author explores the academia through narrative, making a challenging and intellectual topic more palatable. He includes practical discussion starters and activities that could be used in schools at meetings or classrooms.

Many of his descriptions of different personalities we may encounter in our staffing environment will feel very familiar to many of us, but Dellenty remains realistic and optimistic about how to bring about systemic change, engaging as many members of the school community as possible.

This book focuses on empowering young people. As Dellenty writes, our students “need immediate support, validation and representation” and this book is a valuable resource in aiding educators to provide just that.

Rebecca Langham

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