Schoolchildren reach out to LGBT community with new campaign

Couns Joan Atkinson and Alan Kerr, and Young People's Parliament members, from left to right, Kelsie Stephenson, Rio Porter, and Willow Simons, at the training day.
Couns Joan Atkinson and Alan Kerr, and Young People's Parliament members, from left to right, Kelsie Stephenson, Rio Porter, and Willow Simons, at the training day.

Schoolchildren from South Tyneside have reached out to fellow youngsters with a new campaign.

Pupils and school staff from across the borough have decided to offer their support to young members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as part of the project.

It comes after they took part in training sessions hosted by members of the Young People's Parliament, with the aim of offering better support to youngsters with sexuality issues.

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families, said: “All young people are different but it is important that they all have access to support and advice when they need it.

“We want every young person to fulfill their potential and feel accepted at school, regardless of their sexual orientation, so I am delighted that our young people are highlighting this important issue.”

Seven schools were represented at the training event.

Those present agreed that issues affecting the LGBT community should be the topic of this year's campaign.

They learned that LGBT students can experience lower achievement, attendance and well-being if left unsupported.

In the sessions, pupils and staff were given skills, knowledge, resources and confidence as they were encouraged to better support LGBT members, both inside and outside of school.

Kate Palmer, who is a Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) and represents South Tyneside youth voice nationally, said: “Our events are focusing on raising awareness on LGBT+, as so many young people feel out of place or alone during their discovery of their sexuality or gender identity.

"South Tyneside Young People’s Parliament want to make sure that all young people and staff in education are aware of the LGBT+ community and how they can help whether they are experiencing these feelings or not.

"It is a huge issue that is often not focused on.”

Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader with responsibility for democratic renewal, said: “We know that all young people flourish in an environment where they feel valued and included.

"It is, therefore, vitally important that members of the LGBT community can talk to a trained adult at school and not feel stigmatised or isolated because of their sexuality.”