Section 28 today

Matthew and Melissa reflect on Section 28 and LGBTQ+ rights today.



You wonder under Section 28 how many queer students didn’t make it, or no one knew that they were gay and, you know, decided that enough was enough. There’s so many questions, and the fallout from something like this just isn’t known, I think, because no attention was paid to it. Yeah, it kind of makes me really angry. And then also really worried because of the actions that are being taken in Florida, for example, right now and in America. And again, the kind of erasure of any queer content within school spaces, which can seem isolatory in terms of how it’s occurring right now, but you know, those ideas spread. And the worry is that we could go back to something like this again.

I know that I was speaking at a conference at Exeter recently and one of my colleagues asked: Why is it – why do you have to bring this type of message up in terms of looking at introducing queer artworks and queer kind of voices into school spaces? Isn’t it kind of a political issue that shouldn’t be part of the school? And the fact that someone can still ask that question, it’s a little bit worrying. Because to me the answer is that indoctrination is already happening every single day under the kind of guise of normality and heterosexuality. So maybe the legacy of Section 28 and what it did, even though I didn’t really know what it was, is that I’ve dedicated a lot of my adult life now to finding ways of injecting queerness back into the school and making queerness perceivable in a very positive and enlightening way. 



Being visible just generally in the community is good, too. I’m active both in the trans community and in things like – there’s an Exeter based LGBT choir, for instance. So I sing in that, that’s great fun, great community. And one of the nice things about that is that the choir is full of – you know, a good third of the choir are lesbians in their late 50s and 60s, who are all absolutely incredible trans allies and have been amazing and have been wonderful. And anyone who ever says that trans women are a problem for lesbians, I’m just thinking, you don’t know any of them, do you? Cause I sing in the choir and we go to the pub afterwards and we talk nonsense and talk rubbish and they’re really supportive and they’re lovely. And I just think connecting with people in the real world is so important. Because all of that anti-trans nasty guff that’s out there just doesn’t hold up to any real life experience at all, so that’s important too.