Diversity and Inclusion

EVERYONE+

How it started

Before the formation of ‘Everyone +’, Tewkesbury School already recognised the need for students to have time and space to feel they could be completely open and honest about themselves. Staff had a register of students who had identified as LGBTQ+ and had asked for support. This was an essential and solid beginning.

We were determined to be open, to invite staff and students to a public group and to challenge the historical narrative of hiding away. ‘Everyone+’ was not going to be just a safe space. The group was going to be an inclusive representation of an inclusive school culture. It would take bravery, hard work and may even invite opposition.  However, it was to be worth it!

The students that came to the first open meeting of LGBTQ+ knew that the time for excluding themselves was gone. We would only be successful when the whole school community was inclusive and celebrated diversity! The first meeting was dynamic to say the least. Miss Pugh, our anti bullying co-ordinator had supported the group all the way through and offered her classroom as a venue. Many people came, from many diverse identities. The name of the group was decided by poll and a president was also elected. We were now ‘Everyone+’, a voluntary group, with our own student president.

Who are Everyone+?

Everyone is welcome at Everyone+.  We are about making the whole school community a safe space not just about creating a safe exclusive haven for ‘us’.   We are champions of inclusion and diversity, we give assemblies about how diversity benefits the whole of the school community.  We explain that it is not about ‘our’ representation but about every single, unique student, encouraging everyone to be what they can be as an individual.  We celebrate diversity and individuality, raise awareness and normalise the previously isolated. We hope that we can strengthen our community not just within the group but within the whole school where everyone is included and celebrated.

What do we do?

  • We hold meetings once a week and students often set the agenda. These have ranged from self-help seminars to discussions about mental health and wellbeing.
  • We also discuss strategies of dealing with non-acceptance in school, society and at home and about how best to communicate and cope with these issues.
  • We come together to organise events such as bake sales, awareness assemblies and diversity and inclusion week.
  • Students are always given the opportunity to contribute and are able to participate as openly as they wish.
  • There is never any obligation to be ‘out’ and all contributions can be given anonymously if that is the wish of the student. We recognise that we are at different stages on our own paths.

What do we want, when do we want it?

The path to a society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential free from prejudice, is a long one. There isn’t a single member of Everyone+ that thinks it will be achieved at the next bake sale or by showing a particular film.

The young people we work with are all too aware of the challenges they have faced and will face in their futures because they live true to themselves. We just hope that through our bravery we can show others the courage to be free, that individuality becomes the norm for society rather than conformity and that we can reach a hand of friendship to those feeling trapped by social norms and lift them out of conformity, into the light of diversity and inclusion.

In the words of the students:

“Everyone+ has helped me to feel free”

“Everyone+ shows people they can be more than is expected of them i.e. not just straight!”

“Everyone + has helped my closeted friends feel supported to be more themselves”

“It has brought people together to support each other”

“It has made me proud of my sexuality, I feel proud to be me!”

“Everyone+ has been really important for people coming out, they always need someone supportive, people who also understand and can be trusted.”