This is a letter I’ll never send, but only because I’m not sure who’ll want to listen. This term is my last term at my secondary school. I’ve been there for five years and I’ve grown a lot as a person in my time there. I went from being the most emo and annoying 12 year old to hopefully a better, kinder person; even if that’s not always easy.
I went to an all-girls grammar school, which was pretty much engineered to get middle-class girls into the best universities in the country, however, due to the recent education reform in the UK, it no longer can determine the students based on class (11+ exams) or location (catchment areas). However, the core part of the school never changed, now the school was dealing with students from all walks of life but using the same tactics it always had in the past. Also, due to the increased visibility of LGBTQ+ people in society and the influx of eastern European and middle eastern immigration, we were a diverse mix of students in an undiverse school system.
As a queer student, this is what my letter focuses on, however, my second-generation immigrant friends each have their own stories to tell which are just as important. At my school, there is no support for LGBTQ+ students, the school governors also recently introduced a rule which prevents transgender and non-binary students from changing their name on the registers and using the correct pronouns. For gay students, there was no extra support, policies against displays of affection and strict relationship bans. We often felt like it was us against the school system, and so far, our efforts to change anything were nearly always misguided and simply ignored.
As it’s my last term at this school, I want to change something. I want to leave something behind for the queer kids after me, including my younger sister and those yet to join the school. It may seem silly to try to improve a school I so fundamentally hate, but it’s about way more than just me; so I plucked up the courage and approached the head teacher (principal) on changing the way the school works. (note: in British grammar schools, it is considered out of order to just approach a principal without appointment or approval.) I managed to convince her to start a mentoring system, with the older students at the school helping the younger students, whether that be through the transition process or discriminatory bullying or anything else they may encounter.
Hopefully, this will allow the students of my school to change and shape their own futures, even in a world which tells them they are wrong. Already, I know many interested in the project and I can’t help but be excited about what the future holds for these kids. With the support system I’m hoping to put in place, nothing should hold these kids back.
I want to leave something behind. I want to change things for kids like me in the community. I hope this is the start.