Students at Birchwood High School in Bishop's Stortford celebrate LGBT+ History Month
Jonathan Cowen is a Stonewall Young Campaigner and a 16-year-old student at Birchwood High School in Bishop's Stortford. The sixth-former founded the secondary’s equalities group, FUSION in 2017 and has just organised its first LGBT+ History month event with the help of fellow pupils and staff. Here he writes about the challenge.
Since 2005, the LGBTQ+ community has celebrated LGBT History Month and this year Birchwood High School decided to pick up the rainbow flag and celebrate too. Since December, FUSION, Birchwood’s equalities group, has been planning activities to educate and entertain the students of the school throughout February.
In the first week, FUSION provided the experience for students to see the movie The Imitation Game about Alan Turing; a Second World War hero who built the modern computer to crack the Enigma code and was prosecuted for being a homosexual. Popcorn and drinks were sold and all the students in attendance thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see this piece of LGBT history in such an engaging and entertaining format. As well as the movie, FUSION ran a bake sale to raise money for Stonewall and promote the month which was a fun and tasty experience for all involved!
During week two, FUSION presented assemblies to the school, educating the students on the key events and information that revolve around LGBT+ history from the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the catalyst of the gay rights movement, to the Equal Marriage act of 2013, that legalised gay marriage in the UK allowing love to be expressed regardless of gender or sexuality. The assembly also touched upon the law regarding discrimination, which is the Equality act of 2010, preventing and criminalising the discrimination experienced by groups such as race, gender and age to name a few.
We also promoted the normality of being LGBTQ+ using engaging videos from Stonewall to show how being gay is acceptable and normal today and how students should not be ashamed to be LGBTQ+ and should seek support if they need to. The assemblies were successful, presented by FUSION representatives Emily Edwards, Tom Wilson, Hannah Chalk and I spoke to students on a key topic.
FUSION ran its fourth and final celebration event in the main hall of the school. There was a cake sale, activities, a disco space and many more stalls selling rainbow laces, bands and providing information for students to take so they could learn about coming out and identity. The footfall was heavy as students came to celebrate in diversity and difference with the rest of FUSION.
We would like to give a massive thank you to teachers Joe Harlow and Julie Manners for their help in organising the events and to the FUSION members for running them maturely and effectively. Of course, thank you to everyone else who has helped in any way and to all the students who have supported and contributed to the events.