Thousands of schools across the UK take part in School Diversity Week

Virgin Radio

24 Jun 2021, 13:01

This week, millions of pupils up and down the UK will take part in School Diversity Week, a scheme launched by LGBTQ+ charity Just Like Us to celebrate and encourage equality in education.

The initiative, which coincides with Pride Month, features accessible online masterclasses from prominent LGBTQ+ figures such as journalist and presenter Evan Davis, Tik Tok stars Matthew and Ryan, and even a talk on how LGBTQ+ rights have changed over time from Lord Michael Cashman.

Natasha Devon MBE, who is an acclaimed broadcaster, writer and activist, is also delivering a talk on effective campaigning. She told Virgin Radio Pride: ‘After more than a decade campaigning on mental health and related issues, I've learned a lot about how to get it right and what not to do. I was delighted to share this perspective with Just Like Us’ young champions during my masterclass - It feels like passing the baton!’

The charity have also provided an online toolkit to aid LGBTQ+ focussed education, and on Friday they are encouraging pupils to dress up in the colours of the rainbow flag.

The week comes at an important and challenging time for many LGBTQ+ students, particularly with the pandemic confining many students to their homes and away from their peers. In fact, research conducted by Just Like Us found that 87% of LGBTQ+ young people said that they haven’t felt good about themselves on a daily basis over the last year.

Other research found that the current political climate has left 30% of young LGBTQ+ people feeling uncomfortable and afraid to be their true selves. Just Like Us believe that education is best way to address these issues and aid inclusivity, and Virgin Radio Pride spoke to their CEO, Dominic Arnell:

‘Our report, conducted independently by Cibyl, into the experiences of LGBT+ young people growing up in the UK in 2021 has revealed some horrifying news – LGBT+ pupils are twice as likely to be bullied and contemplate suicide but the good news is that schools with an inclusive culture also see a reduction in pupils’ suicidal thoughts and feelings, and have a positive impact on all pupils’ mental health, regardless of whether they are LGBT+ or not.’

‘The independent research undoubtedly shows that LGBT+ pupils are disproportionately struggling but also shows that sending positive messages of LGBT+ acceptance goes hand-in-hand with positive outcomes for all pupils – School Diversity Week this 21-25 June is a fantastic way for schools to begin doing this.’

‘We are thrilled to have so many wonderful LGBT+ speakers, who are experts in their fields, delivering free online masterclasses this School Diversity Week to help make education more inclusive and bring positive representation to young people in schools across the UK.’

School Diversity Week runs from the 21st-25th June, and schools can sign up to take part here.