LGBTQ+ Pride DayPosted: 7th February 2022
Epping St John's Church of England School is taking pride in the diversity of its community as students marked the start of LGBTQ+ History Month with a Pride Day.
The school set up a Diversity Team this year to work on a vision to become a community that not only tolerates difference, but celebrates it.
The day included sessions on unconscious bias and the impact on stereotyping different demographics; a lesson on the science behind how our brains work and why we need to challenge societal constructs; and time to reflect on the need to think before we speak or act.
Students also took part in a session on why it is important to be an ally, looked at stereotypes in sport, before each year group walked with the LGBTQ+ community to St John’s Church Epping.
Faye Clarke, lead practitioner, said: “We walked through the church to significantly diminish that stereotype that you cannot be both religious and LGBTQ+. We then stamped our support onto a cross using colourful thumb prints, eventually creating two Rainbow Crosses which will sit proudly in St John’s Church Epping and our school. This had a huge impact on everyone involved.
“Epping St John’s first Pride Day will be memorable for all involved, but this is just the beginning. We are at the start of a journey of change, but today has given us positive foundations to build upon.”
The Rev Lee Batson, of St John’s Church Epping, said: “It was an enormous privilege for us to play our part in the Pride Day with Epping St John’s. It’s such an important statement that we believe all people matter because they are made in the image of God, and that no one should be made to feel less than they are because of how they identify themselves.”
A sixth form student who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community said: “I remember the days when support was just sticking up a Stonewall poster and today I watched as students walked with flags, banners and pride. I’m so proud to belong to this school.”
Amber Cox, Year 13 student, said: “Epping St John’s Pride Day offered an opportunity for both students and teachers to engage in important discussions on sexuality and gender identity. People were given the chance to voice their questions and, in response, others were keen to educate.
“The Pride walk not only highlighted great allyship, but it importantly represented the support from the church. This vital day acted as a pivotal moment for the school’s journey in challenging prejudice surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and its fight to create a safer space for the students of Epping St John’s.”
Izzy Goff, Year 8 student, said: “Pride Day was an amazing day where everyone could learn about equality and how to treat each other respectfully, no matter their gender, sexuality or sexual orientation. It was an opportunity for everyone to educate themselves on how to treat others with respect and equality.
“The session on unconscious bias was fascinating because it is opinions our brain makes without us even knowing and how much our unconscious bias affects our decisions in everyday life.
“My favourite part of the day was the march up to the church because everyone was included in an activity which connected our school, the church and the wider LGBTQ+ community.”
Mike Yerosimou, head of school, said: “Today will make lasting impressions and a positive difference to students’ lives. We will continue to ensure that every member of our family feels safe, supported and celebrated.”