Stonewall – education for all conference – Cambridgeshire takes top award

Cambridgeshire has been working hard to overcome homophobia. This issue is one that is often not dealt with in schools up and down the country. We all hear young people use the word “gay” to describe all sorts of negative issues but how often to we understand the hurt it causes.

The young person struggling to understand feelings is not helped by these sort of comments. We do not put up with race comments so why homophobic ones?

I was pleased to be asked to accept the Education Equality Index 2011 award on behalf of Cambridgeshire County County at the Stonewall award ceremony today at the National Library in London. Nick Gibbs, Minister of State for Schools presented the award.

Gok Wan gave a personal account of his experiences of being bullied because he was gay.

Isn’t it nice sometimes that the hard work of our officers, partners and schools gets recognised?

Here is the transcript of my speech.

“Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very proud that Cambridgeshire has achieved the highest ranking in Stonewall’s first Education Equality Index 2011.

Tackling homophobia is nothing new in Cambridgeshire. We have been a member of Stonewall’s Education Champions programme since it started in 2008 and have embraced its principles with energy and enthusiasm. The programme has given our schools invaluable access to a wide range of resources and support. Thank you – we couldn’t have won this award without your help.

Cambridgeshire County Council regards the prevention and tackling of homophobic bullying to be an essential component of our work with children and young people. We are committed to making every school in the county a safe place for all pupils to live and learn – irrespective of their sexuality.

We passionately believe that with education, dedication and determination, we can create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all young people.

But we could not have achieved this on our own. Our partnership with SexYOUality – a Cambridgeshire charity for lesbian, gay and bisexual young people – has been particularly fruitful and was identified as a strength by Stonewall.

Praise and thanks are also due to St Matthew’s Primary School in Cambridge, who feature on Stonewall’s new training DVD for schools. Impington Village College just outside Cambridge has also been instrumental in promoting and championing lesbian, gay and bisexual issues across its curriculum.

And finally – we could not have won this award without the drive and commitment of CREDS – Cambridgeshire’s Race Equality and Diversity Service.

To all of you here today – thank you from me, and congratulations for the excellent work you do. Keep up the good work – we certainly will in Cambridgeshire.”

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