Chelsea Morgan has been working with us in February supporting us to deliver our Equalities Workshop to schools across Greater Manchester for LGBTQ History Month. We asked her to reflect on her time in schools with us…
‘This month we have been on the road visiting schools across Greater Manchester delivering Equalities Workshops to celebrate LGBT History month. We wanted to hear young people’s opinions and help develop their thoughts and ideas.
We start each session asking students to discuss examples of equality or inequality within their lifetime. Students discussed world events; from Donald Trump’s wall and trans military ban in America, China’s one child policy and abortion laws, and poverty and power structures across the globe.
Students also shared personal examples of not being allowed in local shops in groups and we explored how it feels to be judged and face restrictions in their daily lives due to other peoples actions.
We often delved into gender equality and students were surprised to learn that according to the CMI it will take 98 years to close the pay gap between men and women; “What?! That is not fair, we will be dead by then. Why can’t we just change it now?”.
We discussed Islamophobia, racism, and the spike in hate crime since the Brexit vote. We pondered on if racism will still exist in the future; “If we teach our children to accept everyone and they teach their children and this continues then hopefully racism will go away. It will take a long time though”.
We reflected on class and education system, and in Salford they spoke passionately about how those from private schools have more opportunities for success, whilst they are left several steps behind; “But it just makes me want to work twice as hard to show the world I’m just as good”, which left me thinking, why should you have to?
I left each session in awe of the vast topics discussed. The young people we worked with are more engaged and aware of the world than I ever was at their age.
The students looked at a timeline of LGBTQ+ history:
In 1990: World Health Organisation removes homosexuality from its list of diseases. “It was a disease? That is stupid. It doesn’t harm you and you can’t catch it. It’s just who you are. I can’t believe people thought it was a disease.”
In 2014: The first same-sex marriage takes place. Students were shocked to discover the first only took place in 2014. “What?! That was in my lifetime, I thought it would have been years before then!”
After our discussions, we all made a pledge; a promise to start (or stop) doing something right now to make the world a fairer, safer place for the LGBT community.
I felt encouraged by their passion, not only to support their rights but to use their privilege be an ally and to fight for the rights of others.
One group of young men in Oldham all agreed that they would take a pay cut to insure that woman would have equal pay. Another group of majority white students said they would always stand up to racism and report hate crime.
Working with Art with Heart has been a fantastic experience. Sarah creates a safe space for young people to share their views and supports them to think deeper and critically about some of the more challenging subject areas.
I believe that small actions can make a huge difference. If the young people we have worked with stick to their pledges, and encourage other to do so too, I think the next generation are going to do us all proud.’