LGBT Week is central to our Academy’s ethos in two key ways. Firstly, the Week reminds us all that ours is an Arena which embraces individuality, and celebrates people being the best version of the person they want to be. Secondly, the Week equips all of our students with the respect, compassion, curiosity and belief in diversity they need in order to flourish in a modern 21st Century Britain.
Throughout our LGBT Week, our students collaborated with a wide range of figures – each selected in order to expose our students to different ways of thinking about LGBT people and issues. Coinciding with the release of the British Army’s ‘This is Belonging’ recruitment campaign – aimed at reminding diverse people that their service is warmly welcomed in the Forces – we were thrilled to work with Warrant Officer Sarah Cotman of the RAF’s Freedom Network; and Compass – the LGBT network of the Royal Navy. Our visitors from the Forces held careers talks, collaborated on our LGBT Panel and gave a stirring assembly – all of which taught students the power of individuality in the most cohesive of organisations.
Other visitors further diversified the traditional range of LGBT activities our students are invited to participate in. Two local vicars from the Methodist Church, Deacon Ruth Yorke and Rev Rachel Frank, gave an Assembly and offered a GCSE RE Masterclass to grapple over various Biblical responses to LGBT issues. The CORE Education Trust Director of Education, Emma Leaman, urged Year 10 to confront their stereotypical constructions of the ‘family’, reminding us all that while family structures may differ, common across so many are bonds of deep love.
Lessons were adapted across the Week to encourage students to reflect on the contribution of LGBT people and culture to various academic disciplines. Historians studied gay servicemen and women during WWII; Mathematicians re-created Alan Turing’s epic Enigma discoveries and Scientists debated whether homosexuality had genetic or social roots. All students attended a special PSHE Form Time to ponder a whole host of LGBT issues. Our LGBT Week Panel saw a harmony of different voices speaking to the power of being true to oneself, including a former Arena Academy student, who described coming to terms with his gender identity as a result of the support given by staff and fellow students at Arena.
We are proud to be an LGBT-inclusive school and hope that opportunities like LGBT Week remind all of students that at Arena, we respectfully collaborate with one another in order to all find our own path to excellence. This starts by celebrating those things which make us all different, and by finding in one another the bonds of love and respect which are common to us all.
Watch our LGBT video on YouTube here.
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