Heartstopper stars Corinna Brown and Tobie Donovan present school pupils with LGBT+ award at Just Like Us charity ceremony
Heartstopper stars Corinna Brown and Tobie Donovan presented school pupils and teachers with an award for their Pride Group at the Just Like Us charity awards last night.
Corinna Brown said: “Heartstopper is a show that follows the lives of LGBT+ young people and school shapes so much of their experiences. Having played Tara in Heartstopper, I know just how common it is for young lesbians to feel ashamed of who they are. In fact, Just Like Us’ research showed that 68% of lesbians delay coming out because they feel ashamed.”
Tobie Donovan said: “We need to make sure that LGBT+ young people don’t grow up feeling ashamed of who they are. Just Like Us helps schools to set up Pride Groups so they have a lunchtime club in school, where they can go to feel safe and accepted.
“The winner of this award is a school that has shown outstanding efforts to platform the voices of all their Pride Group members and improve their school for everyone.”
The Pride Group of the Year award went to Yewstock School and College, which has gone above and beyond to help LGBT+ pupils feel safe and celebrated at school and has shown outstanding efforts to platform the voices of all their Pride Group members and improve their school for everyone.
Yewstock School’s Rainbow Alliance meets weekly to learn about and discuss LGBT+ topics, read stories, do group activities, and the group has even hosted assemblies on LGBT+ inclusion for the wider school community.
“Our students represent many other students across the country and worldwide, who are trying to find their place in the world and to be true to who they are.”
— Naomi Culley, staff champion at Yewstock School and College
For School Diversity Week 2023, the Rainbow Alliance held a mini Pride festival for the entire school, which involved a performance by a local singer, a doughnut sale, a photo booth, raffle and more.
Yewstock School and College staff champion Naomi Culley said: “All the students that take part in our Rainbow Alliance work so hard to go above and beyond to organise events in school to raise awareness of diversity and the importance of inclusion for all students in our school. Our students represent many other students across the country and worldwide, who are trying to find their place in the world and to be true to who they are.”
Just Like Us’ Pride Groups programme supports school staff in running more than 300 Pride Groups UK-wide for LGBT+ and ally pupils, providing resources and training for both staff and student leaders.
Corinna Brown and Tobie Donovan were among a line-up of well-known LGBT+ figures, including West End star Layton Williams and Paralympian Lauren Rowles, who celebrated strides made by young people, school staff and mentors for LGBT+ inclusion.
The runners-up for the Pride Group of the Year award were Beths Grammar School in Kent and Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend, Wales.
Pupils in Beths Grammar School’s Pride Group helped to develop an LGBT+ policy for their school, and worked with the local council and other schools to organise LGBT+ “think tanks”.
Brynteg Comprehensive School’s Pride Group has designed community artwork for their local youth centre, launched their own zine featuring LGBT+ news, artwork and writing, and ran a Valentine’s Day fundraiser, selling and delivering 200 roses.
Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, said: “All of Just Like Us’ more than 300 Pride Groups across the UK are making positive change, whether that is within their school or even in their local community.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to Yewstock School and College for winning Pride Group of the Year at the Just Like Us awards 2023, as well as to our runners up Beths Grammar School and Brynteg Comprehensive School, and thank the school staff and pupils involved for their enthusiasm and hard work on LGBT+ inclusion.”
The Just Like Us Awards 2023 were sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co, and Gay Times was the official media partner.