Words by Smiley Team
When 13-year-old LJ Bassindale surveyed LGBT+ pupils at their school they discovered that nearly half of the students had experienced bullying based on their gender or sexuality. This deeply troubling finding drove them to support those affected and create a more open and happier school.
Already the secondary school had taken some steps to challenge the problem. Staff had created LGBT+ committees to offer peer support for each year group. As a member of one of these committees, LJ appreciates the efforts of their teachers but believes there’s much more to be done.
“There’s so much about my school that’s good,” they tell Smiley News. “A lot of people are quite accepting. But I think it's just the fact that because it's a bunch of teenagers, there will always be some issues.”
During their research into the LGBT+ bullying at their school, they heard stories that motivated them to find a solution themselves. Their peers were experiencing name-calling and disbelief in response to their gender or sexuality, and LJ knew they just couldn’t stand by and let that continue.
“I just want to make it easier for people to be themselves,” they explain.
They took the bold move of stepping forward to speak with their teachers and headteacher about it. Along with the rest of their committee, they have drawn up a list of actions that they believe staff should take to make school life more enjoyable for all pupils.
These include helping all pupils understand that different sexualities are natural, not some kind of identity choice, as they have noticed some pupils believe.
“There’s no evidence it’s unnatural because over 450 animal species show homosexual behaviour,” they explain.
Through better education about LGBT+ issues, checking people’s pronouns during registration and a variety of other means, they hope to transform the school for the better.
Describing what this might look like, they say: “I just want a school where you can be yourself, you don't have to tell people about your sexual orientation, and if you date somebody of the same gender, nobody even cares.”
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