This is a week of firsts for me. I’ve finally returned to school after quarantine, it is the first week of my last year of school and on top of that I’m experiencing what it is to be School Captain for the first time. However, there is an even bigger first this week. After years of pushing to give the LGBTQ+ community a stronger voice, The Mary Erskine School has won the Youth Scotland LGBT Gold Award - I couldn’t be prouder.
I joined The Mary Erskine School in Primary 6 and it’s undoubtable that the school’s attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community has come a long way over the past year. Nobody is excluded. Sometimes well-intended actions can mean that the LGBTQ+ community continues to feel marginalised because it is treated as an exception from the norm but our school has avoided doing that. Instead, we have created a beautiful harmony between both inclusion and education.
Simple things, such as our LGBTQ+ History Month assembly, have really helped on the education side. Not only do these sorts of activities provide important information to people who may have very little exposure to LGBTQ+ content outside of school but they also mean those of us in the community feel more seen. It has also removed the stigma, something which is incredibly important. The creation of our GLIDE group has given us a real voice for the first time and the school has conducted surveys to help teachers understand the experiences of the community and the changes they would like to see.
For our trans brothers at The Mary Erskine School, exceptions have been made to allow trousers instead of kilts for their uniform. For a school which can be quite traditional this is an incredible change and it will help immensely with dysphoria. It’s a powerful show of support.
One of the most meaningful changes, however, has been the impact on the school’s environment, which has become significantly less heteronormative. It is a subtle change and one which may go largely unnoticed for those who are heterosexual and cisgender but for those of us who have spent the majority of our lives feeling excluded, it has made a significant difference. People around the school are now talking openly about these topics more than they ever have before and it’s a relief to no longer hear comments like ‘when you all get husbands’ or the ‘well we’re all girls here’. It has created a more welcoming environment and enforces that all of us are the same at heart.
The school is not simply accepting the LGBTQ+ community, they are actively supporting and fighting for us.
S6, MES School Captain