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Speak Up With Pride - June 2024

International Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969: a pivotal event in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. On that historic night, patrons and allies of the Stonewall Inn in New York City, faced with yet another police raid, decided to fight back. Their courage sparked a movement that would forever change the landscape of LGBTQ+ activism.

Since then, the struggle towards equality and inclusion has continued, marked by both triumphs and setbacks. Consider the introduction of Section 28 by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, which forbade the "promotion of homosexuality" by schools in the UK and the stocking of associated literature in public libraries. This legislation – repealed in 2003 - created a climate of silence and fear in UK classrooms for both staff and children. Research shows a strong motivating factor of current LGBTQ+ teachers has been to ensure their own schooling experience is not repeated for our younger generation.

The 2021 report Just Like Us cites evidence of the positive impact inclusive school cultures are now having on the mental health of all students, especially those identifying as LGBTQ+. Yet only 33% of LGBTQ+ 11-18yr olds said there is a clear process for reporting anti-LGBTQ+ bullying in their school, and a third of primary, secondary and college staff said their colleagues and school board are a barrier to doing LGBTQ+ inclusion work with their pupils. There is clearly still work to be done.

“The passage of time alone does not undo the significant damage that comes from decades of state-sanctioned marginalization and vilification.” – Brett & Brassington

In their 2023 book, "Pride & Progress: Making Schools LGBT+ Inclusive Spaces", and their Pride & Progress website and podcast, Brett & Brassington amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ educators and allies, and encourage everyone to contribute to the “stories of pride and progress, and celebrate the true power of diversity in education.”

This Pride Month offers a moment to reflect on our collective journey towards true LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools, where both students and staff are seen, supported, and celebrated.

The Pride Progress Flag representing the journey towards equality and inclusion across a larger number of marginalised communities.

Of course, this journey towards authentic diversity, equality and inclusion in our schools isn't purely about LGBTQ+ rights and we can continue to explore and champion intersectionality.

And neither should driving this progress be seen as the responsibility of underrepresented people; we all have an important part to play in amplifying marginalised voices, especially where we may have privilege to get a message heard.

“Allyship is a continual investment of time in supporting others, holding ourselves accountable when mistakes are made, apologising and being prepared to rework the approach towards allyship as needs change.”Sheree Atcheson

As a vivid example, let’s take Nemo’s recent success as the first non-binary winner of the Eurovision Song Contest with 'The Code', which describes their experience of coming to terms with their non-binary identity. Nemo benefitted from the support of two other song writers, a stage design and technical team, musicians and producers, plus the whole central Eurovision team itself, the TV hosts, the executive producer, camera crew etc. Apply this to a school context, and we can see that we all have a part to play in supporting, enabling and amplifying the voices of others.

You may not have the reach and influence of an international singer, but your work within schools holds enormous power, shaping the hearts and minds of future generations.

“The spheres of influence we have as teachers and educators are enormous. We have the ability to affect more change in one day than many people do in a year.” – Brett & Brassington

We offer you just one question this month, whether you identify as LGBQT+ or not: What personal actions of allyship can you take within your role to amplify the voices of others? Examples may include:

  • Calling out and acting upon inappropriate/insensitive behaviour or language

  • Showing appreciation of colleagues who demonstrate behaviour or language which fosters an environment of inclusion

  • Actively seeking an array of voices to learn from

  • Revisiting policies, curricula and resources to cross-examine for unconscious bias

  • Promoting vision and values through communications to wider stakeholders eg. Pride Month Social Media Toolkit

  • Talking about Pride parades and events 2024 Pride Dates

  • Becoming a sponsor/supporter of someone from an underrepresented community

  • Providing people with a safe, non-judgmental space to explore their barriers to authentic, values-based communication and expression eg. PURE Coaching. Or seeking the opportunity to engage with this yourself

By committing to just one new action which supports minority voices, we can together create a sector in which everyone feels valued, celebrated and empowered to speak up with pride. The influence of one can lead to the power of many.

If you can find 5 minutes today to watch India Arie’s music video to What If, I’m sure you’ll find the spirit of agency quite powerful:

Cause it's up to us

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for

We can change the world

Our love can change the world

Me too, I matter, you matter, we matter

Together we are love

It's gotta be all of us

To stand up and speak out

You and me are the chosen

Right now this is our moment

We are a people of motion

Our love’s gonna change the world

I’ll leave you with a testimonial from a Leadership Edge participant, explaining how PURE Coaching helped them to find their voice:

“Being deeply listened to felt incredibly validating and empowering. It created a safe and open environment where I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. This level of attentiveness made me feel respected and valued, increasing my confidence in expressing myself.”

- Secondary School Head of Department

Warmest wishes,

Catherine Hulme


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