Previously I ran a blog called So What Squad alongside this one, but time constraints meant I wanted to fine tune my social media presence, so I am moving all the posts over to this blog. This is the first of six posts.
The So What Squad (Sexual Orientation Whatever)* was set up in 2008 in a North London secondary school. A teacher at the school was leading on a project to tackle homophobia and as part of that work worked with a group of students to set up the group.
The groups name, logo, mission statement and aims were all developed by the students themselves. Their aim was to challenge discrimination and homophobia/transphobia and provide a safe space for any LGBT students within the school. In fact several students felt so comfortable as a result of the group that they were able to come out to family and friends which was a massive step for them and all of them reported it was a very positive one. The group absolutely was not only for LGBT students (whole point was Sexual Orientation- Whatever!- So what!? It really didn’t matter in the group*). As a result of the group and the campaigns run within the school there was a marked reduction in the previous homophobic/transphobic language and bullying that seemed commonplace.
This post was started in response to watching Jamie- Drag Queen at 16 shown on BBC3 recently as it showed how his school were not dealing very well at all with Jamie’s wish to go to his prom in a dress. (And it was incredibly touching how his peers supported him in the end!). Although sadly all the founding members of the SoWhat squad have moved on from the school and as far as we know it isn’t running in the same capacity at the school any more, we hope that these posts will help inspire and support other schools in creating safe spaces for LGBT students and challenging the endemic culture of homophobia and transphobia that exists in our schools.
These posts aim to support other young people, teachers, youth workers, parents or anyone else in setting up a SoWhatSquad in their school. You are welcome to use any of our materials or use our ideas to develop your own stuff. We’d love to know how you get on please email sexedukation at googlmail.com. (Also feel free to email any specific issues or questions and we will do our best to answer them and if appropriate use them to write blogposts to support other people!)
* A note about the SO What- standing for “Sexual Orientation Whatever”, the group was inclusive although on reflection our name could be seen as excluding the transgendered community, this was absolutely not intentional. The name was developed by the students as they loved the notion of “So What!? As in it really doesn’t/shouldn’t matter! but perhaps a more fitting name might be “student orientation whatever” or something. Most importantly the name should fit your group- so if “So What” as a name doesn’t work for you- choose another that does!