Co-curriculars are a significant element of an individual’s school experience, and the students of the City of London Freemen’s School want to Learn, Lead and Make a Difference. 

The co-curricular scheme at the City of London Freemen’s School is one to be reckoned with; the school has an astounding one-hundred and fifty extra-curricular activities available for its students, including sports clubs, art, and chess. However, I felt that something was missing.  

This school prides itself not only on its achievements both in the exam hall and on the sports field, but also on its support of its students. Many students opt to partake in programs such as the Peer Mentoring scheme open to the Sixth Form, or even apply to be a Prefect. This motivation from the student body to help their fellow students inspired me. After all, the school’s motto is, ‘Learn, Lead, and Make a Difference’; this was my opportunity.  

The school is a place of inclusivity and diversity, which is, in itself, fantastic. As a student at the school, I benefit from the support system the school has in place, but I am always thinking, what could I do to improve? What more can I do to help my peers? 

From this grew the idea of an LGBTQ+ book club; a safe space for students who did not previously know of a place in which they could be themselves and be supported. In this way, I aspired to create a space in which under-represented individuals in the school could learn more about the community, and more about themselves.  

My first thought was, of course: where do I start? Firstly, I had to make sure the school was supportive of me initiating this club. Fortunately, they were eager to help me start this club; I gained the support of the well-stocked library, and the co-curricular staff, who were delighted to hear of a student wishing to lead such a club.  

I have always been passionate about the LGBTQ+ community and have felt that young people who find themselves in a place of confusion concerning their sexuality and/or gender identity are often misinformed or simply not in the know about the community. From September 2020, new regulations were put in place by the government about teaching relationship and sex education. These regulations include teaching children about all kinds of family, which, of course, include LGBTQ+ families. Stonewall’s 2017 research shows that approximately 40% of LGBT students were not taught about LGBT issues in school.  

Having endured sex education classes myself, I can provide testimony to the fact that it lacked LGBT inclusion. When sat in a classroom with a group of girls, more than once, I was tempted to ask the question, “But, Miss, what about the lesbians?” Retrospectively, I wish I had. It was, and still is, assumed that LGBT sex education is not something that should be covered in schools. One could argue that LGBT sex education simply isn’t applicable to everybody; to that, I say, well, neither is heterosexual sex education.  

Through my LGBTQ+ book club, I aim to help the LGBTQ+ students of my school to gain further information about the community; information that will help them through life. This club, however, is not only aimed at the LGBTQ+ students. I hope to see individuals come to me asking for advice on how to be a better ally, or what terminology is, or is not, appropriate in reference to the LGBTQ+ community. Fundamentally, this book club is a safe space for anybody and everybody, even if they just want to find a good new book to read. 

 Nobody is excluded in this new co-curricular club. It is not just for boys, or for girls, but for everybody in between. It does not discriminate and is available for anybody who wishes to attend.  

Perhaps this inspires you to pursue a passion and inspire others by doing so.  

BY Charlotte Richardson