LGBT+ history month: Standing Proud and Speaking Out

Sixth Former Paige Leakey discusses the ongoing work of Team Pride, and why LGBT+ history month is as essential as ever:

I have been leading Team Pride for a few years now and it has been such an honour to work with so many incredible students, changing the school for what I hope to be years to come. Team Pride is a student-led group that promotes equality within school and supports LGBT+ students. It was set up by my brother Alex Leakey, a gay student, who worked with teachers to provide training from the charity Stonewall to protect LGBT+ students in St Katherine’s School. After this, the lack of awareness around LGBT+ support was highlighted and this was the start of Team Pride. The group ran assemblies, and led Pride Week in school to raise money to support charities like Stonewall. 

Every year, without fail, people ask me why there is a month dedicated to the LGBT+ community. The most simple answer is that reports suggest that a quarter of the world’s population believes that being LGBT+ should be a crime. Every year we take this time to remember the work that others have done to provide us with the rights we have today. We acknowledge the progress which has been made and we live with privileges that many of us would love to share with those less fortunate. We think of people in Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen who still face the death penalty for being LGBT+. We must strengthen our community in aid of those who are not able to do so themselves. 

From the late ‘80s until 2003, Section 28 prohibited teachers from supporting and protecting LGBT+ students within schools.  Abolished just 17 years ago, this barbaric and inhumane piece of legislation had an adverse impact on the diversity of the curriculum for years. We acknowledge Team Pride would not be able to exist during Section 28, and are extremely grateful to have this community and platform within school. Even so, studies shockingly suggest that half of LGBT+ pupils hear offensive slurs 'frequently' or 'often' at school. And so, education around inclusivity remains as vital as ever. 

In a time where two in five trans people have experienced a hate crime because of their gender identity in the last 12 months in Britain, we are determined to ensure St Katherine's is a safe environment for everyone. As well as this, Team Pride aims to help young people build confidence so we can change the fact that currently 42% of LGBT+ university students hide their identity in fear of discrimination. We want St Katherine’s students to feel pride, now and forever.