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First ever Pride Week at Chch school a success

Sun 19 Mar 2017 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

An openly gay student at Shirley Boys High School has successfully organised the very first Pride week at the school and delivered a courageous speech during a full school assembly. With Christchurch Pride running this month in the city, year 13 student Matt Kendall took it upon himself to get the school in the spirit of Pride. Headmaster John Laurenson says the students received the Pride Week well with many wearing rainbow ribbons to show their support for the queer and gender diverse communities. A number of staff also showed their support for diversity on Friday when they wore rainbow colours to school. He says while there has not been an enormous amount of openly queer or gender diverse students at the school over the years, there have been openly gay staff members and there have not been any issues that have arisen so far. “The issue of supporting diversity in all of its manifestations has not been an issue for many years,” he says. Does the school have many openly queer or gender diverse students? No we don’t the last staff member I am aware of was Adam Smith, now at Rolleston, there have been students over the years, but again not an enormous number. That said however there will be some who are not comfortable openly admitting to their particular sexual orientation. That leads to the answer to the following question… Lawrenson says it is important to support a student-led initiative such as this “because it is part of the moral and philosophical imperative to support diversity, in all of its manifestations. When this happens, then society as a whole is strengthened.” Kendall, who has only recently come out to his family, stood in front of his school during an assembly and introduced the students to Pride week and it’s importance. Read his speech below. “Hi, my name is Matt Kendall, for you who don’t know me I am a year 13 student. “Last month my family and I were talking and I came out announcing that I was gay. Now this situation is huge, telling your parents that your sexuality is not society’s definition of normal and both sides adapting to the change. Now my parents were very accepting but not being accepted is still a fear to anyone. “This pushed me to create this school very first pride week, which will be occurring throughout next week. That week will be a time for acknowledgement and awareness for the gay community, rainbow groups and the importance of LGBTIQA rights. “Acceptance is also a big part of next week, where people questioning their own sexuality get to be in a safe environment with people surrounding them supporting all of this. “Homophobia is still a big problem in and outside of all schools for young gay teens which leads to a high rate of suicide. However, this event isn’t a time for sadness, it is time to celebrate your sexual identity. Stereotypes also doesn’t define who you are as a person, just be who you want to be. “Ribbons will be handed out Monday form class, you are not forced to wear this - also this isn’t to say that you are gay - the ribbon is to show your support for this week, so don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed of what people think, wear it with pride. There will also be items decorated around the school. “To summarise Pride week is a time for acknowledgement and acceptance of diversity in all its shapes and colour. So, enjoy next week.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 19th March 2017 - 5:17pm

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