The student-led society exists as a safe space for pupils to learn about LGBTQ+ and gender-based issues, while looking at how we can make the College an ever more inclusive place.
This month the GSA has been raising money and awareness for Mind Out – a mental health charity run by LGBTQ+ people. Pupils made and sold smarties cookies and raised more than £200 for the charity.
Alongside the fundraising, Billy Maguire (Year 11, Holman) has been hosting conversations about the power of language, and how damaging certain words and phrases can be to young people coming to terms with their sexuality. He has spoken to boys in Holman, Forest and Granville and plans are in place to deliver talks to the girls in Wilson and Crawfurd and then to whole year groups.
The focus of Billy’s presentation has been around the use of the word ‘gay’ and other LGBTQ+ terminology, and included an interactive gameshow: Is that Appropriate or Not?’. Billy presents the audience with a number of different scenarios and phrases, and asks whether words have been used appropriately.
The presentation concludes with a discussion about coming out and outing people. The talk focuses on the issues and feelings faced by someone who may wish to come out, and how young people should respond if someone comes out to them.
Billy said: “The reactions from my classmates has been rather exceptional. The inspiration for doing this came from watching the movie Old School, with Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn, where in the first five minutes I was taken aback by a homophobic slur that was used. I was concerned by how normalised such language was and that motivated me to raise awareness among my College peers about the appropriate use of language.
“I initially came across the GSA last year, when I had the idea to do a talk on the improper usage of the word gay. At the start of this year I was given the responsibility of being my House’s Equality Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) representative, in which I felt that to best represent Holman House by attending all possible meetings and continuing to be an active spokesperson.
“Being part of the GSA is great because of the interesting conversations and debates that we have, and the fact that the group encompasses the entire College community. Through the GSA I have had the opportunity to make new friends across the College whose paths I may not have crossed with otherwise.”
An Introduction to the GSA and How to Be A Supportive Parent
Kirsten Head (Upper Sixth, White) has written the following message from the GSA to help parents have discussions with their children about LGBTQ+ issues.
The Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) exists within Epsom College as a safe space for students to learn about LGBTQ+ and gender-based issues during student-led information seminars and for collaboration on how we can make the school an ever more inclusive place. The GSA is also important as it creates a safe place for LGBTQ+ students, those that are questioning their gender or sexuality, and those who wish to enrich their knowledge around gendered issues to educate themselves while also providing a platform to report any incidents that occur within the student body.
Within the GSA, the Feminist Society (or FemSoc), headed by Juliette Lehmann and Delphine Ayitey-Hammond in Upper Sixth, has been created. It strives to educate people on what it means to be a feminist and demolish false stigmas around what the movement stands for. Both the GSA and FemSoc are open for anyone at Epsom to attend regardless of their gender or sexuality.
Our work in the past has included a Rainbow Laces campaign to support the increase of diversity within sport with proceeds going towards the LGBTQ Switchboard.
While the GSA creates a safe space for students within the school, we have compiled some resources you may not yet be familiar with to support parents in LGBTQ+ discussion. Whether it’s your child, a niece/nephew, or a family friend it is likely you will know a young person who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community. Knowing how to support them can significantly change the often difficult coming-out or self-identification process and help with the stresses and difficulties that come with growing up as LGBTQ+. We have listed the various resources below and we hope some of these will be of interest and use.
Sexuality versus gender by BBC Bitesize
Tips for parents of LGBTQ youth by John Hopkins Medicine.
Supporting LGBT+ children by Children1st.
How to support LGBTQ Children by Child Mind.
Making the ‘Birds and the Bees’ talk more inclusive by Women AdvaNCe.
Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue by Christina Brown is a guide that helps parents focus on their children’s unique strengths instead of gendered stereotypes.
This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids by Danielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo is a great introductory book for parents new to all things LGBT or serves as a good ‘jumping-off point’ for parents who have recently had a child come out.
Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt tells the inspiring true story of transgender actor and activist Nicole Maines, her twin brother and an ordinary American family’s journey to understanding and celebrating uniqueness.
Is it a choice? By Eric Marcus. “The answers to all the questions you’ve ever had about homosexuality but were afraid to ask”
Outspoken Voices by Emily McGranachan discusses common worries from parents after their child comes out.
Just Breathe: Parenting your LGBTQ Teen by Chrysalis Mama aims to transform the conversation around raising an LGBTQIA+ teenager and helps parents feel less alone in their journey to support them.
Gender Reveal by Molly Woodstock, a non-binary journalist who sits down with a different trans and/or non-binary person each episode to discuss “What even is gender?” and is particularly good for those struggling to view gender as something more than being a boy or a girl.
LGBTQ+ TV Shows
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Pray Away (Netflix)
Anne with an E (Netflix)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)
A Secret Love (Netflix)
Young Royals (Netflix)
Love, Simon (Disney+)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (Netflix)