Guest Column: York LGBT Forum - Schools subgroup spotlight

By Lisa Kelly, co-chair, York LGBT Forum. | 20th September 2016

Image by Victor Björkund from Flickr

Image by Victor Björkund from Flickr

York LGBT Forum is now 10 years old, became a registered charity in 2015 and is currently one the Lord Mayor of York’s Charities of the year, but who or what are the York LGBT Forum? Lisa Kelly, Co-Chair to the forum, has a regular column here with us, telling readers all about the charity and helping to raise awareness all things LGBT. Catch up with previous columns HERE, and read on for more…

York LGBT Forum’s Schools’ subgroup has been working hard on raising awareness within York’s Schools. Hannah is our coordinator and with her team of volunteers they have worked tirelessly to get through to secondary schools in the York area, starting from just a small handful of schools willing to listen a few years ago, to almost all schools now taking on board the message that growing up as an LGBT person has long term health and wellbeing problems associated with it, especially if playground bullying and name calling continues to be passed off as ‘just kids banter’. The under 24 age group has one the highest rates of physical abuse towards LGBT people, and the second highest attempted suicide rate (only Transgender people have a higher rate) and if school playground bullying goes unchecked the real danger is those doing the bullying grow up to adulthood thinking that it is okay to pick on vulnerable people from minority groups such as LGBT people. Hannah has worked hard to address this issue and 2 years ago, her subgroup donated an LGBT book to the library in every school in York, following up last year with another book, ‘this book is gay’. On the back of this, last year was the first time that schools were actively encouraged to get pupils to enter an LGBT writing competition, for 11-16 year olds. The competition had just one rule, their poem or short story had to have an LGBT theme. Entries came in during LGBT History month in February of this year and a very high standard was set, and the winner’s entry has made it into the Forum’s annual report. The winners all received prizes and the overall winner’s school won a trophy, one that we hope they will be pressing hard to defend when the competition returns later this year, bigger and better than its inaugural event.

Two of York’s secondary schools took part in this year’s York Pride parade, and we are working with York Pride and York LGBT History Month to actively encourage all York secondary schools to take part next year in what will be the biggest ever York Pride, it really would be a remarkable achievement from where we stood just a few short years ago and showing the next generation of adults that there really is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and that it is just as normal as the sky is blue or the grass is green.

To find out more information about York LGBT Forum, or to get involved in some way however small, then please visit our Facebook page here, check out our website here, or drop us an email at [email protected]

Next time we will focus on our upcoming events including news of our AGM.

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