Today we kicked off our new Amazon LGBT+ Reading Roadshow, visiting secondary schools around the country this year to celebrate the importance of diversity and inclusion through literature.

Created in partnership with LGBT+ education charity Just Like Us and LGBT+ media outlet Pink News, we’ll be running a series of inclusivity workshops and talks at schools across the country and donating free, age-appropriate and expert-approved books on LGBT+ themes to school libraries.

We were delighted to have Will Young and Chris Sweeney, co-creators of the Homo Sapiens podcast, host a special launch event at Petchey Academy in East London, where they were joined by glamazon volunteers (our LGBT+ employee affinity group), Just Like Us ambassadors and the Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville. After the workshop and book reading, students from Petchey Academy also had the chance to play games, listen to music and win prizes at the Amazon Treasure Truck.

Will Young and Chris Sweeney from Homo Sapiens

The Amazon LGBT+ Reading Roadshow launch followed a YouGov survey we commissioned of more than 1,000 primary and secondary school teachers, which revealed the extent of LGBT+ bullying in schools.

Among those teachers surveyed, 71 per cent have witnessed homophobic bullying in schools and 35 per cent claimed to observe homophobic bullying at least once a month. LGBT+ bullying was found to be the most common motivation behind bullying in schools (13 per cent), compared to racism (11 per cent), sexism (7 per cent) and religion (2 per cent). The survey also revealed that the majority (58 per cent) of teachers would support the idea of businesses discussing the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools.

school children at the Amazon LGBT+ reading roadshow

Speaking at Petchey Academy, Will Young said: “Thirty years ago, when I was at school, talking about LGBT+ issues or even reading these books in school would have been illegal. It was only 16 years ago that Section 28 was abolished – before many of these young people were even born. Even today, young people still suffer from homophobic bullying and barriers to being their authentic selves. That’s why it’s great that Amazon is visiting schools across the country to show young people that being true to themselves is an enabler not a barrier to their future."

“Even today, young people still suffer from homophobic bullying and barriers to being their authentic selves. That’s why it’s great that Amazon is visiting schools across the country to show young people that being true to themselves is an enabler not a barrier to their future. ”
Will Young

“Diversity and inclusion can make everybody stronger – benefiting communities, schools and across society as a whole,” added Simon Johnson, UK Country Manager, Books, Amazon. "So by meeting positive role models, running workshops which tackle the causes of bullying and opening young minds to literature that challenges stereotypes, we hope the LGBT+ Reading Roadshow has a positive impact on students and builds on the existing work of schools.”

The initiative marks 16 years the abolition of the controversial Section 28, which banned schools from teaching pupils about LGBT+ relationships. Many secondary schools are also preparing for curriculum changes that will make teaching about LGBT+ relationships compulsory from September 2020.

LGBT+ reading roadshow - Will & Chris

All participating schools will receive a free book box containing a selection of expert-approved and age-appropriate literature on LGBT+ themes, including texts from Alex Bertie and Lisa Williamson. To discover and share the full list of books for ages 11-16, please visit this page.

The Amazon LGBT+ Reading Roadshow is part of our long-term commitment to diversity and inclusion, including our sponsorship of this year’s Pink News Awards and Amazon Music’s continued role as official music partner for Pride in London. Last year, we also launched new transgender guidelines to provide best practice for all employees, introduced preferred pronouns to its internal global employee directory, and more recently, launched Amazon Amplify – a programme to boost gender diversity and inclusion across the UK.

So a huge thanks to all campaign partners and glamazon volunteers for their support in launching this exciting new initiative at an important time for LGBT+ diversity and inclusion across the UK.