Varndean School Celebrated LGBT Lives During LGBT History Month

March 28th, 2011 by

Varndean School Celebrated LGBT Lives During LGBT History Month and raise £900 for Allsorts Youth Project.

Varndean School held a series of assemblies during LGBT History Month to promote diversity, culminating in an awareness day for students and staff challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.


 

February is Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) history month.  It celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community, celebrates diversity and helps the whole of society to see diversity as positive.  Many young people face daily prejudice in both schools and their personal life. The Stonewall School Report 2007 found 65% of young lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced direct bullying because of their sexuality or ‘perceived’ sexuality, whilst 90% of secondary teachers and 40% of primary teachers have witnessed homophobic bullying in schools.

The Student Cabinet at Varndean, led by teacher Liz Wilson, wanted to raise awareness of LGBT history month, promoting equality and inclusion to all students and staff within Varndean. To achieve this Varndean School held a series of assemblies culminating in an awareness day, when 50 staff challenged homophobic prejudice by wearing Stonewall T-shirts with the slogan, ‘Some People are Gay. Get Over it’, helping raise £900 for Allsorts Youth Project.

 

As Liz Wilson explained, “This gives out a whole school message to pupils and staff that homophobic bullying is wrong and that Varndean is a safe place for everyone including LGBT people”.

Judith Ford, Assistant Headteacher, who has fronted the assemblies and gained staff support for the t-shirt campaign said “I was really pleased, though not surprised by how staff and students have embraced this school-wide challenge.  The students have shown a mature and supportive attitude to their peers about something that can be very sensitive.”

William Deighan, Headteacher, added “Sir Ian McKellen was very moved by how inclusive of difference Varndean is and I think that we can sometimes take this for granted. I am very appreciative of the community that has over many years, brought this about. If I were younger and streetwise I would probably say, Varndean rocks!”

For the last two years, Allsorts Youth Project has supported Varndean School to run an annual Challenging Homophobic Bullying awareness day for all Year 9 pupils as part of National Anti-Bullying Week. This has involved running an assembly where Allsorts young people have talked about their experiences as LGBT Youth. Allsorts workers helped the Varndean teachers to design workshops on LGBT issues e.g. using role play to demonstrate how to challenge homophobic language, an art workshop where pupils made their own anti-homophobia posters to display around the school, and a workshop exploring stereotypes of LGBT people.

Marianne Lemond, Team Leader at Allsorts Youth Project, said of this collaboration, “Both days have been very successful, with pupils really engaging with the issues and showing real empathy for their LGBT peers. Liz Wilson, a volunteer at Allsorts, and teacher at Varndean has been instrumental in building links between Allsorts Youth Project and Varndean and making these days happen.”