One of the biggest challenges of working in education is feeling like you are not doing enough for the young people in your charge. This month, however, members of staff at Marple Hall have come together in force to support our LGBT+ community and help tackle some of the negative impacts faced by the young people of the community. As a school we are big on visibility, that is showing our students that school is a safe space to be open about their gender and sexuality. Around school we have many visual initiatives; painted bricks with the Pride flag, proudly flying the Pride flag outside of our main reception; many staff wear Pride lanyards or rainbow pins to promote LGBT+; we also have many staff and students who are out and proud, acting as role models for those who wish to be their true self but have not yet got the confidence to come out. With the support from some amazing charities including Stonewall UK and Time for Inclusive Education, here are some of the other initiatives we have been up to over Pride Month 2021.
Just before half term we announced to our school community the relaunch of the LGBT+ club. With Covid-19 restrictions in place since March 2020 it has been a challenging time for all young people, not being able to participate in the usually extensive range of extra-curricular activities we offer at Marple Hall. According to LGBT+ charity Just Like Us, youth members of the LGBT+ community tend to seek support from friends and like-minded people, often struggling to find the support they need at home, either due to living with unsupportive families or families who are unaware of their identities. The relaunch of the LGBT+ club, within Covid-19 guidelines, aims to bridge the gap of support to ensure our LGBT+ students to do not suffer disproportionately to their non-LGBT+ peers. We look forward to welcoming new members every week and sharing positive messages with our students.
As a young person it is often hard to know which adults to turn to for advice and support. To promote staff awareness and encourage pupils to seek support from their teachers and form tutors we have issued all our members of staff with “Ally” cards. Staff proudly exhibit these cards in their classrooms in solidarity of our LGBT+ community. Recognising that many people outside of the LGBT+ community identify as allies, but do not always know how to best support their peers, we are working on resources specifically designed for allies with a focus on the language they use when discussing LGBT+ issues. These resources will soon be available for everyone in our reception area, staff rooms and on our school website. Watch this space!
Life at school is all about preparing for the future. It is a time for setting goals for life ahead taking the necessary steps to achieve those goals, often encouraged by idols and role models in a chosen career path. Unfortunately, many members of the LGBT+ community struggle to find role models they can identify with as for decades people who identified as LGBT+ had to hide their identity out of fear of the law or social ridicule. With the help of Scottish charity Time for Inclusive Education we have been promoting LGBT+ advocates in a range of careers; politics, sports, sciences, and arts. Each week form tutors have been sharing the stories of pivotal people in LGBT+ history such as Maureen Coloquhoun, Billy Jean King, Alan Turing, and Sylvester James. Everyone should feel like they have someone like them to look up to, knowing they can pursue any career they want regardless of how they choose to identify.
Towards the end of Pride Month, in our extended form session, we will be sharing a TEDxYouth talk by Camelia Bui, a bilingual teenager who talks about inclusive language. LGBT+ rights have come so far in the last decade thanks to the advocates and activists promoting changes needed for a more inclusive society. In her talk Camelia speaks of the power language has to change our perspective and how language is pivotal to how we view ourselves, each other, and the world around us. She offers simple but practical tips for adapting your vocabulary to ensure you are inclusive of all genders.
One of the biggest rewards of working in education is empowering the next generation, to think for themselves and to challenge the status quo. Only through a more inclusive education can we shape a society that is fair and equal for all. As part of ensuring we are part of positive change for the LGBT+ community, we have recently secured a School Champion Membership with Stonewall UK and will be applying for their School Champion Award to have our hard work recognised. This will allow us to provide a wealth of resources to our school community and share some of the work we have been doing with other schools around the UK. If you have any questions about LGBT+ or are wanting to learn about what we are doing for inclusivity at Marple Hall School, please feel free get in touch with a member of our staff LGBT+ team. You can find their staff bios on our website along with details of how to contact them. Remember you are loved, and you have the freedom to love without judgement. But most of all remember to love yourself. You are beautiful and we accept you for who you are! We hope the work we do will help you on your way to being your authentic self and achieving your goals