Alongside the launch of the Pupil Pastoral Forum this year,
the Stonewall Society was created in the hopes of helping to provide a place to talk about LGBT issues and identities at school.
To find out more, I spoke to Oli Ravenhill, one of Oundle’s LGBTQIA+ ambassadors
and a founder of the society. Did anything in particular make you decide to get started with the Stonewall Society?
Was it difficult to set things up? I wanted to start things properly, as last year
I helped run something on a much smaller scale with Miss Dawes but it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped it would be.
Then, when the Pastoral Forum posts were advertised, it gave me a chance to try something bigger and better supported, which I hoped would carry on after I’d left school.
I mainly wanted to get involved because when I came out I felt very isolated and there was no-one who I felt truly comfortable talking to.
Although people say that you can talk to Tutors and Matrons, I find it’s different with such a private matter.
Because of this, I wanted to create a space where you could just talk to people.
The idea grew into something where people can not only come to talk about themselves, but to have a broader conversation about LGBT issues.
It hasn’t been difficult at all, since Miss Dawes has been wonderfully supportive with this venture.
What issues in Oundle do you mainly attempt to tackle? Is it about social problems such as casual homophobia, or more about offering information about LGBT identities and issues? You have hit the nail on the head here.
My main goal is very much that: educating people and creating an area for discussion of these issues.
We talk about a range of things; one week I’ll talk about non-binary identities, whereas in the next session someone else might want to talk about something LGBT+ related going on in the news.
Casual homophobia has definitely been a focus, since it shouldn’t really be present in a place which prides itself on the manner and behaviour of its pupils.
It’s important to mention small things, like explaining to people that saying ‘no offence’ after calling something gay in a derogatory way doesn’t negate the statement.
As well as meetings being education based, the most important element for me is that it’s a free
and open space for pupils to talk about whatever they feel needs to be discussed.
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