This year we have been celebrating Pride Month in a variety of ways. Around school we have reminded everyone in our community why it is we recognise this awareness month. We strongly believe in promoting equality. It is our primary aim to ensure that everyone feels safe and respected. One of the ways we do this is to celebrate the diverse body that we are, taking an active interest in what makes us different.
One of the focuses this year has been the importance of being 'an ally' to the LGBTQ+ community. And why is it important? Well, being an ally can make those within the community feel safe, supported and respected. It reinforces that they should be proud of who they are despite what others might think. Being an ally also means you should be vocal about your support of the LGBTQ+ community and challenge homophobic and transphobic comments or actions. As well as discussing scenarios within form groups, some pupils have heard from some of our sixth formers in assemblies and Year 8 pupils were invited to enter a poster competition about why it is important to be an ally.
Pride Month has been a great opportunity to celebrate the lives of the people throughout history within LGBTQ+ community. Audre Lorde is a self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," and her work is known for the power of its call for social and racial justice, as well as its depictions of the LGBTQ+ experience. As she told interviewer Charles H. Rowell in Callaloo: "My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds." Aslie Pitter was a British footballer who joined Stonewall F.C., Britain's first and most successful gay football club, in 1991. Having initially played midfield for the Sutton United youth team he quit after coming out as gay and joined Stonewall FC. For his work in combating homophobia, he was given an OBE. We think these are two of many people that Wilson's pupils can look towards for inspiration.
The London Pride March
On Saturday, Wilson's School Pride Society again joined the London Pride Parade, which this year celebrated its 50th Year. Six pupils, six members of staff and two OWs set off from Hyde Park Corner around midday, making our way down Piccadilly, through Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, and ending at Whitehall at about 2pm. We waved at the crowds, danced, met some politicians and even saw some more OWs along the way. Although times have changed and society is more accepting of people with a wide array of sexualities and gender identities, life for those in the LGBTQ+ community still presents many challenges. Recent decisions by the Supreme Court in the USA have opened up debate about whether certain laws surrounding gay rights should also be overturned. It really shows how vulnerable LGBTQ+ rights still are. Our Pride Society, which meets every Monday lunchtime, offers a safe, welcoming, and accepting space for all our pupils to come to, whether we discuss the big news or simply sit around and chat. On Saturday the atmosphere of the parade provided a similar space but on a much greater scale.
Ewan in Year 11 says 'I found myself waving to a hugely diverse crowd of people in windows, on balconies and in the streets. It was an amazing feeling to wave to so many different kinds of people and see their smiles and waves back! Strangely, even when surrounded by thousands of people, this felt like one of my most comfortable experiences as I was surrounded by so many celebrating people embracing themselves.'
For both Ms Amoako-Williams and Mr Lynch, this was their first time experiencing being part of the Pride Parade. Equalities Lead Ms Amokao-Williams says 'There was a lovely sense of community spirit as we marched that often made me feel like a celebrity (and not in the same way as being spotted in the supermarket by a student on a Sunday morning). I also found it incredibly heart-warming and overwhelming to witness just how many allies of the LGBTQ+ community had come to show their support. I'll be there again next year!'
Mr Lynch adds 'It was an absolute thrill and honour and at times felt very emotional. As streets were lined with thousands of well-wishers and supporters, it was a privilege to see our students cheered on by so many people as we continue to fight for a world where everyone is free to be who they are.' And continue we do!