Pride at Woodhouse

Dated: 14 June 2021

 
 
To mark Pride Month, we've been talking to students and staff about LGBTQ+ life at Woodhouse, and pride related activities at college.
 
Due to the pandemic we have moved the bulk of our college Pride celebrations online. There will be a Pride focussed EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) committee newsletter sent out later this month, exploring the significance of the movement, milestones and key figures. The articles are all written by students from the Woodhouse community and the newsletter is sent out to all staff members and students here. There are also Pride displays around the college and we have a student led P Club society that is very popular too.
 
Some students and teachers have been kind enough to share a little of their LGBTQ+ life experience, both at college and before Woodhouse.
 
Upper sixth student Yaz told us...
 
"There were times where I didn’t think I would be where I am now. I’ve lived my life in the closet, and I haven’t had any choice but to hide. Whether it was friends, family, or even my previous schools, sometimes being out and proud wasn’t the best thing for me, and unfortunately, I know many others have been in the same position as me. Then I came to Woodhouse. I truly didn’t think that I could be part of such a wide, vibrant, and welcoming community, but there are so many people here, accepting and supporting, and words cannot describe how much it means to be in a school so open about their acceptance and pride in their own students.
 
During Pride, we celebrate how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go. We celebrate for those who fought for our rights, for those who are out and proud, for those who are in the closet, and for those who can’t celebrate. It’s a month where people can be seen, heard, and respected. Visibility of the LGBTQ+ community has always been a challenge for us, whether it be in the modern day, or within our history which we should be proud of and remember. That’s why an esteemed place of education being open about their own LGBTQ+ students is so important to us.
 
There will still be parts of my life where I can’t be out, places where I have to hide my identity. And yet, I’m happy to say that Woodhouse isn’t one of those places, and that it’s truly an open and proud place of acceptance."
 
 
Kevin (R) with his husband Juan (a Specialist Nurse at the Royal Free Hospital)
 
Our Head of Year, Physics Teacher and D of E co-ordinator, Kevin Lawrence, told us...
 
"I started teaching in 2000, three years before the repeal of Section 28 and it is amazing how much schools and colleges have changed and how much more visible LGBTQ+ staff and students are now. But LGBTQ+ inclusion is about more than just preventing and tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. It’s about building a diverse college community where students and staff are free to explore and celebrate every aspect of their identity.
 
I feel proud to work at a college which takes equality seriously. Where students are able to talk about different kinds of relationships and family structures. Where teachers don’t assume that all students are heterosexual or that there are no trans students in their class. Where students are encouraged to feel positive about themselves and their bodies and that everyone has a sexual orientation and gender identity and that everyone is different. Where gender stereotypes are challenged and the understanding of the differences between biological sex and gender are acknowledged and can be openly discussed."
 
 
We also heard from a lower sixth student member of our our Pride club...
 
"Having come from a small school where there were very few out LGBTQ+ people, it's a wonderful thing to have a community of people who will accept me without question and allow me to be myself. I think it's something that people take for granted - you don't really think about a world where you have to hide who you're dating (or a chosen name) under the table, exchanging relationship advice in hushed voices or even having to outright pretend you're someone or something you're not.
 
We are, in a small respect, the lucky ones. We can celebrate pride. We are protected under law to be able to be who we want, love who we want. It may not be perfect, but we can sit outside in the open and discuss the very things that a handful of years ago would have landed us in prison. Not everyone is so lucky. In some countries, there are people who are still under the threat of criminal justice or hate crimes for simply being who they are.
 
Pride month exists as a celebration of those who have suffered, those who have hidden and those who have fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community that mean we are able to flourish out and proud today. And it is a statement of solidarity to those who are not able to be open and equal like we are.
 
We fly the rainbow flag today, we remain as activists for our communities, trying to carry on the legacy of those who fought for our rights and honour what they did for us. So that those who cannot today, hopefully, will be able to live - to marry, to transition, to date - tomorrow, like we do here and now. And they one day, hopefully, in the spirit of pride, will be able to be proud of the qualities they were once ostracised for."
  
 
 
 Katie (R) and her partner Jemma (a video game producer)
 
Katie Harrington is our Head of Psychology at Woodhouse. She told us...
 
"I was at college when Section 28 (1988-2003) was in full force and can still very clearly remember how difficult it was growing up in a heteronormative society, where everyone assumed you were straight and no one was “out” for fear of being bullied. In fact, I didn’t personally know one “non-straight” person until I started teaching when I was 25, the year Section 28 was finally repealed! This is why LGBTQ+ inclusion is so important to me, so that no young person ever again has to exist feeling as though they are alone, invisible and don’t matter.
 
I am so happy that things are finally changing and that young people today have the freedom to express who they truly are. I have always believed that we are on this planet for too short a time to waste our precious energy on hatred and negativity and it is a privilege to work in a college that promotes the same message.
 
Woodhouse College celebrates our differences and has a culture that advocates for equality and respect for all humans and I am proud to work for a college that unashamedly stands up and says “race, gender, religion, sexuality, we are all people and that’s it. We’re all people. We’re all equal.”
 
 


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