A sixth form which set up a lunchtime support group for LGBT+ students to meet safely has won a role model award.

Blackpool Sixth Form set up the lunchtime Pride Group for LGBT+ and ally students to help provide support so they could be more confident in being themselves. 

The college was Runner Up in Just Like Us’ 2021 Role Model Awards.

Just Like Us is the LGBT+ young people’s charity and their 2021 Role Model Awards, supported by J.P. Morgan, celebrated excellence in LGBT+ inclusion in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges across the UK.

The awards follow independent research by Just Like Us, that found LGBT+ school pupils are twice as likely to be bullied and experience suicidal thoughts.

The research also found that schools having positive messaging about being LGBT+ is linked to school pupils having better mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether they are LGBT+ or not.

Lancashire Telegraph: Julie HalliwellJulie Halliwell

Julie Halliwell who helped set up the Pride Group with Just Like Us' support said: "Blackpool Sixth are absolutely delighted to be awarded Runner Up for Outstanding Pride Group.

"We are extremely proud of the success of our LGBT+ Group and how it has developed over the last few years.

"We think it is important to provide a safe space for LGBT+ students and to raise awareness throughout college, promoting inclusion and equality and diversity.

"It is a privilege to see the students grow in confidence."

One pupil said: "I look forward to the group every week. I hate it if I miss it!"

Another pupil said: "I enjoy hanging out with people who understand me and my identity."

A third pupil credited the Pride Group for helping them feel less alone: "I like how it allows people to find other people they can relate to, giving them more confidence."

Lancashire Telegraph:

Chief Executive of Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, said: “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.

“Congratulations and a huge thank you to our winners, runners up and all school staff who entered and are making positive change in their schools so that LGBT+ young people can thrive, and showing that you don’t need to be an expert to make your school more LGBT+ inclusive.

“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.”

Find out more about Just Like Us and how it supports schools at www.justlikeus.org.