Assistant Head Mr Sherry talks to L Hall about LGBTQ+ History Month
What does LGBTQ+ history mean to you?
It's about being proud of who you are and proud of the people that have come before. Also proud of the people fought so that me, my friends and my fiancé can live the happier, freer more equal lives - which they weren’t able to enjoy in the past. It's about remembering those people that went to prison, who suffered discrimination, abuse, death (in some cases) and being thankful and proud of what they achieved for us. And hoping we can pass this on to future generations as well.
Do you have a role model you look up to?
There’s a variety of different people that I look to and are thankful for. I think pioneers like Ian McKellen, Michael Cashman and Angela Mason, who were originally involved in setting up Stonewall - the UKs leading LGBTQ+ charity. The arguments they made with government and political parties to change things in this country had massive impact. The abolition of Section 28 and the right for same sex couples to be recognised under civil partnerships, the right to adopt children and then equal marriage in 2013, would not have happened without their work.
Dustin Lance Black, the film director, married to Tom Daley, is also really important figure from the role he plays in telling the history of the people that have gone before. His film about Harvey Milk who was the first openly gay elected official tells a story about a man that really changed the history. And I think that Dustin Lance Black ensuring people see this representation is incredibly valuable.
How do you think people attitudes have changed over the years you have been at this school?
I think the school has become more open and inclusive. I think that students now appear more comfortable to be who they are and more open with their identity, sexuality or gender. To be open about it is incredibly brave as discrimination, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia still exists. But there's been a growing number of students who are willing to challenge that and I think that's a really positive thing. When I think back to when I was at school, I wasn’t out and I went to school in the Section 28 period. I went to school and I didn’t feel able to talk about who I was, no one could educate me on who I was; there were no support structures then. That change is absolutely massive.
Does KTS celebrate LGBTQ+ history month?
We have just revived our LGBTQ+ alliance which has had a couple of years on hiatus. It's been really good to see loads of students attend especially Years 7s, 8s and 9s. For LGBTQ+ history month the alliance will be delivering an assembly at the end of the month. But it will give us an opportunity to talk about figures that have contributed to our society and our culture.
I think we will be beginning to look at how we can celebrate Pride month in June, especially celebrating the LGBTQ+ students in this community.
Is there any issues inside or outside of school that you would like to bring light to?
I think right now trans people and people who are questioning their gender are experiencing a really unpleasant time - there's a public debate about they live their lives yet they can’t take part. Whilst there are different issues and arguments people raise we need to remember that we are talking about people. What people can so carelessly say can have a really profound effect on their mental wellbeing and health.
Ian McKellen - English actor (best known for X-men and Lord of the Ring roles)
Michael Cashman - Member of the House of Lords
Angela Mason - Is a founding member of Stonewall
Stonewall - Largest LGBT rights organisation in Europe
Section 28 - law that prohibited the 'promotion of homosexuality'
Dustin Lance Black - American screenwriter and director who founded the American Foundation for Equal Rights
Photo: lgbt-speakers.com, www.bbc.com