On this page

The climate crisis

LGBTQ rights

Britain and the EU


Why are these here?

This website is about education (obviously!).

But what goes on in our schools and colleges is not the only thing that matters to young people, and the graphics represent three issues which I care about deeply and which I believe are of importance for the wellbeing of future generations.

The first - the climate crisis - is already damaging children's lives around the world; the second - LGBTQ rights - affects everyone because it is about society's attitude to difference; and the third - Britain and the EU - is of relevance mainly to young people in Britain, though it also has wider significance.

Please note that the suggestions below apply to the UK. Elsewhere, there may be similar organisations you can support. Be aware that in some countries you may, sadly, be putting yourself at risk if you contact groups concerned with LGBTQ rights - be careful.


The climate crisis

What's the graphic?

It's the photo of our planet - from a distance of around 29,400 km - taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on 7 December 1972 as they were on their way to the Moon. Known as The Blue Marble, it is one of the most reproduced images in history.

Why is it here?

It represents the most fundamental issue facing future generations - that of preserving life on our planet. In its Climate Action programme, the UN argues that in order to achieve net zero by 2050 greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 (compared with 2010 levels), whereas current action plans will result in a 9 per cent increase by 2030.

So I reckon the human race has about thirty years left, after which, if we don't take drastic action now, vast areas of the Earth will be uninhabitable and billions of people will be crammed together, struggling to survive on what's left of the polar ice caps. Too pessimistic? Perhaps - I'm no climate scientist!

But I do believe that we are now perilously close to the point of no return, and I am dismayed that, instead of working collaboratively to secure our future, we seem to be more interested in bombing each other to oblivion.

Suggestions

Sign up to one of the many environmental campaign organisations, such as Just Stop Oil, a non-violent civil resistance group which is calling for an end to the licensing of all new oil, gas and coal projects. It has many student supporters.

Support Teach the Future, a campaign led by school and college students, which aims to improve education about the climate emergency and ecological crisis.

And in the forthcoming general election, vote for candidates whose manifestos include a commitment to net zero. You might want to look at the Tactical Vote website.


LGBTQ rights

What's the graphic?

It's the rainbow flag, designed to reflect the spectrum of human sexuality. It was first used in June 1978 at San Francisco's Gay Freedom Day Parade and is now seen at events around the world. There are many variants of the flag but this one is the original and most widely used. (And, in my humble opinion, the best!)

Why is it here?

Much has changed since I was a teenager in the 1950s/60s, when gay sex was still illegal, blackmail was rife, and newspapers ran headlines about 'filthy perverts'. Here in the UK discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender reassignment was made illegal by the 2010 Equality Act and gay marriage is now commonplace; Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) in schools is LGBTQ-inclusive and there are now many films and 'young adult' novels which feature gay characters.

But - and it's a big but - all is not well. Homophobic bullying continues to be a problem in schools; vicious hostility to LGBTQ people is damaging lives in Russia, Hungary, most of Africa and parts of the US; and far-right governments around the world are using hate as a political weapon.

Suggestions

Support Stonewall, which was formed in 1989 to campaign for the repeal of Thatcher's obnoxious Section 28 (see chapter 15 of my history for more on this) and continues to campaign on LGBTQ issues.

If you work in a school or college (or even if you don't), check out Just Like Us, the charity which works with schools to support LGBTQ students and their straight allies, provides speakers and produces free educational resources.

If you work in a primary school or are a parent of primary-age children, have a look at the books and resources produced by Pop'n'Olly which teach about equality and diversity and help combat prejudice before it can begin to form.

And if you're a gay teenager (and if it's safe to do so in your country), catch up with It Gets Better, an international movement which provides positive and reassuring messages for LGBTQ young people.


Britain and the European Union

What's the graphic?

It's the flag created for the Council of Europe in 1955 and adopted as the official emblem of the European Union in 1985.

Why is it here?

It's here because Brexit - the most grotesque act of national self-harm in my lifetime - is a disaster for our young people:

  • economically - it is reckoned that the UK is already (February 2024) 140bn poorer than it would have been had it stayed in the EU: Britain's young people will be paying for Brexit all their lives;
  • socially - it's about what sort of people we are and how we relate to others;
  • culturally - the loss of freedom to travel, work and play music across Europe;
  • environmentally - Britain continues to use bee-killing neonicotinoids and other chemicals banned in the EU, dumps sewage in rivers, and flies meat from the other side of the world instead of shipping it across the Channel;
  • healthwise - poorer food safety standards;
  • ethically - lower animal welfare standards;
  • educationally - the loss of Erasmus and of many European students from British universities; and
  • politically - it has given succour to far-right forces across Europe and beyond.
Brexit was voted for overwhelmingly by the old. The young voted to stay in the EU. For their sakes, Brexit must be reversed.

Suggestions

Subscribe to The New European. First published after the 2016 referendum, the weekly paper was originally intended to last only for four issues. But it proved very successful and has gone from strength to strength. Regular contributors include Alastair Cambell, Matthew d'Ancona, Jonty Bloom and Patience Wheatcroft.

Join the European Movement, founded by Winston Churchill in 1949 to promote European unity in the wake of World War 2. With 21,000 members and 200,000 campaign supporters, its aim is to see Britain back in its rightful place at the heart of Europe.

And in the forthcoming general election, vote for candidates who support closer relations between Britain and the EU. Again, you might want to look at the Tactical Vote website.

It's going to be a long haul back to sanity but, for the sake of our young people, we must make a start, and the sooner the better.


If you have any comments about these issues I'd be pleased to hear from you. Contact details are here.

Derek Gillard
March 2024