June is celebrated internationally as Pride Month, and here at Northampton Academy, we joined in the celebrations of our LGBTQIA+ community.
Purpose and Importance
Pride Month commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, also known as Stonewall Uprising, a momentous event in LGBTQIA+ history. It's one of the first accounts of a significant movement that strives to accept the LGBTQIA+ community into society. People around the globe celebrate and commemorate the achievements of LGBTQIA+ people.
This year is particularly special, as it marks the 50-year milestone of Pride in the UK. In 1972, over 2000 people gathered at Trafalgar Square in London for the first-ever Pride march in the UK. Presently, more than 1 million people celebrate Pride in London alone. And events now take place worldwide in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.
Our Students' Determination and Ambition
Our students, supported by staff, have worked tirelessly to put together one of the biggest celebrations of Pride our school has ever seen. As a result, students could peruse our 'Happy Pride' display, featuring colourful, educational, and motivational posters as they entered the school.
Special thanks to Y11 student Connor R, who has done so much work for the LGBTQIA+ community in this school. On his last day at our academy, he had this to say: "I am so proud of everything we have done. Thank you all."
Northampton Academy's Pride March 2022
The big event of the month was the Pride March that happened during lunchtime on 30th June. It was organised by a great team of staff members, Mx Skelton, Ms Cechova, and Mr Anderson, with the support of many others. The students' ideas and plans for this event were the most ambitious we have ever seen.
Preparations for the march included daily arts & crafts workshops where students made placards and decorations to wear during the parade. The respect and tolerance I have seen during the workshops are note-worthy. Students were helping each other express themselves fully and freely. Many students attended more than half of the workshop dates.
On the day, 55 students marched through the school following a pre-planned route. After the march, I asked students for comments, and this is what they said:
"Best time of my life." – Lucas E (10E)
"Probably the best moment in the whole school year. So proud of everyone who showed their true self." – James E (9S)
Following the march, all Key Stage 3 and 4 students attended a Character Development Session about the importance of Pride and community. They could ask questions and learn more about why Pride Month is important and how much it relates to all our school values, especially regarding community building.
Staff Leading by Example
Many teachers and support staff from all over the school came to the march to support our students. English teacher, Miss Osmani said: "I am so proud to see so many of our students living their best lives with pride."
On 16th June, LGBTQIA+ students and allies participated in a creative writing workshop run by our Head of English, Miss Windridge. The prompt was to write a poem starting each line with "I am..." or "I am not". In a supportive atmosphere, students could express their identity and share their poems with friends.
Our library is very supportive of our LGBTQIA+ community, and Mrs Sullivan, our librarian, is a great ally, providing a variety of books on LGBTQIA+ topics and fiction featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. This month, we decided to expand our collection even more, and we are taking suggestions from students and staff for new books. These new books will contain a special plaque commemorating Pride Month 2022 in our school.
Closing Words and Looking to the Future
Mx Skelton, who has organised and supported our students every step of the way, said: "Looking back at our students, I could not have been more proud. Well done, Northampton Academy!"
I am also incredibly proud of what we have done this June, and I hope we will have the opportunity to do similar events in the future. We work tirelessly in the library and in the LGBTQIA+ club to plan with intersectionality in mind, leaving no one behind.
Ms Cechova (she/her)