Categories spanned LGBT+ Inclusive Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Pride Group
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGES BY JUST LIKE US
Great news, DIVAs! LGBTQI charity Just Like Us has announced the winners of its 2021 Role Model Awards. Supported by sponsor J.P Morgan, the awards recognise teachers, students and schools alike in their efforts to promote diversity in the classroom. With accolades spanning Outstanding Pride Group and LGBT+ Inclusive Teacher of the Year, there’s so much to celebrate. What a positive note to end the year on.
LGBTQI charity Just Like Us exists to educate children and teenagers on LGBTQI issues. This year’s Role Model Awards celebrate excellence in LGBTQI inclusion in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across the UK.
So, shall we meet the winners? Primary school teacher Nicola Collins was crowned LGBT+ Inclusive Teacher of the Year for her efforts to transform St Stephen’s Church of England primary school in west London into an LGBTQI-inclusive environment. “As a gay teacher with children, I talk about my family as a workshop for each year group and share my own experiences of growing up gay and the challenges it brought. We also hold a rainbow dress up day. Reception also held a mini Pride Day this year!”
Drama teacher at Plume, Maldon’s Community Academy in Essex, Alison Ollett similarly received the award for Outstanding Pride Group. Setting up a space for LGBTQI pupils and allies alike to find solace during their lunch breaks, her efforts were supported by the Just Like Us Pride Groups programme. With the participation of over 60 pupils, their Pride group has been a catalyst for positive change.
“Plume Pride offers a space for students to seek support from staff. Since holding regular meetings many of our trans students have been able to start their social transition. Just Like Us has helped us so much. Whether it be setting out the ground rules or code of conduct, session content or their big event support they are our rock!”, Alison states.
Runners Up for the LGBT+ Inclusive Teacher of the Year included Neil Wilson at Waterhead Academy in Oldham, Manchester and Natalie Chyba at Howell’s School in Cardiff, Wales. Brinsworth Academy in Rotherham, Yorkshire and Blackpool Sixth Form College were similarly recognised as Runners Up for the Outstanding Pride Group accolade.
Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, states: “We are delighted to celebrate the hard work of so many incredible school staff – and young people – who are paving the way for LGBT+ inclusion in their schools, including through all the challenges of the pandemic.”
“At a time when LGBT+ school pupils are twice as likely to be bullied and contemplate suicide, it is vital that they get positive messaging about being LGBT+ so they don’t leave school feeling ashamed of who they are and we are so grateful to teachers ensuring that the future looks different for them.”
Interested in the work Just Like Us do? Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Aged under 25? Consider joining their Ambassador Programme and help to change real lives with real stories. To donate to their cause, visit their website. Congratulations, all.
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