Much achieved; much yet to be done – LGBT History Month at QE

Much achieved; much yet to be done – LGBT History Month at QE

QE marked LGBT History Month with a string of special activities, including a talk by one of the UK’s leading advocates for inclusion in schools.

Shaun Dellenty, who has been honoured at the National Diversity Awards and was praised by then Prime Minister David Cameron for his work, led a virtual assembly for the Sixth Form, urging the boys to use their voices to advocate for what they believe in.

Other activities during the month included a talk to Years 9 & 10 from the LGBT+ young people’s charity, Just Like Us, as well as a competition, and a quiz run by the School’s LGBTQ-E Society, which was very well attended.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Shaun’s assembly was an important reminder of the progress that has been made in recent decades, but also an indication that there remains much to be done. At QE, through events such as these, as well as our Personal Development Time programme and the work of our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Ambassadors, we seek to ensure that our School community is a place where all are treated with respect and kindness.”

Shaun Dellenty, who has been named as one of the top 100 most influential LGBT people in the UK, began by noting that not all countries have an LGBT History Month, and that LGBT rights are still very unequal across the globe.

By becoming an ‘upstander’ – one who intervenes on behalf of those who are being attacked or bullied – he had had influence beyond his expectations, with a life journey that had taken him all the way to Downing Street. He told the boys he hoped the boys would reflect on how they could similarly use their voice to advocate for what they believe in.

LGBT History is, he said, a case of “making visible what has often been invisible”. His talk looked at the progress made over time, noting the milestones, such as the 1969 Stonewall riots, which marked a shift in the profile of LGBT issues.

He spoke about the progress of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) agenda in Parliament – where until recently he worked two days a week – as well as in many large companies and organisations.

Mr Dellenty, who is a teacher and is a Diversity and Inclusion Manager at an independent school,  also spoke about the impact of words and of ‘banter’ – the damage done to people, sometimes leading to very serious consequences. “You need to take ownership of what comes out of your mouth,” he told the Sixth Form audience.

Head of Year 13 Simon Walker thanked Mr Dellenty for his talk. He noted as a History teacher that it was striking that LGBT histories were only now just starting to be unearthed or be focused on: they had previously simply not been regarded as a priority.

EDI Ambassadors Heemy Kalam and Victor Angelov, of Year 12, and the LGBTQ-E Society jointly ran a creative House competition on the theme of LGBT heroes.

Rebecca Grundy (Head of Extra-Curricular Enrichment) said a judging panel had chosen Year 9’s Trishan Chanda as the winner for his “very interesting essay” on Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a 19th-century German lawyer, jurist, journalist and writer, who is regarded as a pioneer in the study of sexual relationships. Second place went to Anik Singh, of Year 9, for a poster, and joint-third to Keon Roberts and Samrath Sareen, both of Year 9, for a poster and presentation respectively. All Houses were given House points based on how many entries they submitted, with bonus points given for the top three competition places. As a result, Underne won the  competition overall, with Stapylton second and Harrisons’ third.