Schools Out AGM – Manchester University February 2013
February 02, 2013
With Alan Turing as the figurehead for this year’s LGBTHM, no place could have been more apt for February’s gathering than the beautifully space-age Alan Turing Building, part of Manchester University’s Mathematics Department. Over 100 people arrived in crisp winter sunshine to take part in a packed programme of speakers and workshop sessions. First up were the LGBT History Month Writers In Residence, led by poet Adam Lowe, who is providing the website with ‘a poem a day’ for February, performing a spoken word piece. Getting the main proceedings off to a fascinating start was Manchester University’s own Dr David Alderson, enlightening us all on some of the “scientific” approaches to homosexuality that psychiatrists such as Freud and others have espoused over the years – and some of them have been pretty well ‘out there’. Continuing the link with Turing, the second slot of the day was taken by Erinma Ochu (Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow and Museum of Science and Industry – MOSI – collaborator on the Sunflowers Project. It was Alan Turing who first ventured the idea that mathematics and nature were not mutually exclusive in his work on Fibonacci Numbers and sunflowers. Erinma is part of the team persuading Turing’s work, and used her time with us to prove that maths can be fun! The third section of the day was, for most of us, the highlight of the day – the theatre performance groups. Firstly we had the Sheffield-based Sheena Amos Youth Trust (SAYT) giving us a performance of ‘Side By Side’ a play based around the issue of homophobic bullying in schools and performed by mainly-LGBT teens, and which has been taken into schools around Yorkshire. SAYT were followed by Pink Triangle Theatre Company and there ‘Show One’ which had us literally roaring one moment and blubbing the next. A stunning live resource for any organisation looking to tackle homophobia, not only schools. Janet Palmer, HMI and National Advisor for Citizenship was as able to take time out of her busy schedule to go through the new Ofsted Criteria, which are putting inclusion and diversity at the heart of the curriculum, and assured us all that a school that is not supporting LGBT staff and pupils in future is a school that will fail. The Schools Out AGM ratified the group’s steering committee for the year ahead, adding one or two new faces, and Sue Sanders, Co-Chair, was able to announce increased available financial resources, a continuing upward trend for hits on all websites, including our Facebook Page, as well as the success of the new TES India-based website. Biggest news of the AGM was that by the end of 2013 Schools-Out will be a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), as a representative of Simmons & Simmons LLP, the company drawing up the necessary documentation, explained. Before splitting up into our afternoon workshop groups, our last main speaker, Rachel Williams (LGBT Youth North West) talked us through the new Best Practice Kit. After that, the final ninety minutes of the day were in groups, looking at some of the various ways it is possible to actualise LGBT lives in classrooms – ‘queering’ fairy tales; the RAINBOW Film Project and STEM lessons from our website ‘The classroom’. There were also sessions on the wider issues of Trans awareness and the still-thorny issue of coming out as a teacher. After brief thank you message and public declaration of support for the work Schools Out is doing by Simon Jones from the NUT, what had been a hugely supportive, uplifting, inspiring and optimistic day conclude with the LGBT Writers In Residence performing a moving poetry work inspired by the day’s events.
Follow the Flickr link on the right of the home page to relive the day in pictures.
Andrew Dobbin – Promotions Officer