I’m a librarian by trade, and there are certain things that all librarians learn by heart at school. How to shush people, of course, but more importantly how to advocate and raise the voices of those who are silenced, underrepresented and vulnerable.
One key statement that all librarians live by is that every person deserves to see themselves in their library. I want every child I meet to be able to walk into my library and say “There I am” or “Oh, that’s me!”
At Whitefield School, we have taken that idea and turned it outwards from the library, asking ourselves if our LGBTQ+ students see themselves in every aspect of their school. Can ALL of our students walk down the hall, sit through a lesson, or read a school newsletter and find their lives and experiences reflected there? Two years ago, when we first formed our staff LGBT+ group,
I’m afraid that answer was more often no than yes.
But things have changed.
Our first Rainbow Day celebration took place following the devastating Orlando Massacre in June 2016 and was a way for us to inform our students and staff about LGBTQ issues, while honouring the victims and their families. By the end of that week, more than 30 families had come to the school to complain.
Our response - with the support of our brilliant Senior Leadership Team and Liz, our head teacher - was to form a student Gay Straight Alliance and to start our plans for the following year’s Rainbow Day celebrations, which would be even bigger and even more colourful.
Our Rainbow Day Celebrations have brought us together with Just Like Us, and now last an entire week, Diversity Week. This year we’re even planning on taking a group of students to our first London Pride parade. You can only imagine how excited we are!
All of this is to say that Diversity Week is important to me because as much as our words matter, and they do, actions are required to truly convey this message to our LGBT+ students and colleagues:
You are seen.
You are valued.
You are loved.
Lynmara's work was recognised with the Teacher Champion Award at the 2018 School Star Awards