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Year 9 Equalities Day

Visit by Juno Dawson successful teen ficton author.

Thursday 26th January was an equalities' day for Year 9, as part of our learning enhancement programme. They were fortunate to get a visit from multi-award winning author and journalist Juno Dawson, responsible for writing books such as Hollow Pike, This Book is Gay and most recently Margot and Me.

She told students about her most recent book Margot and Me, she spoke of how she was inspired to write a book about family, set in the Second World War during the blitz and evacuation. At a time when women had a lot less rights then they do today, it was only just over 20 years earlier in 1918 when women first got the vote! And even then it was a restricted vote to women over 30, who were homeowners or married to homeowners. She then read an extract from Margot and Me to the students.

She shared her own inspiring life story with students of the many years it has taken to discover her true self. The journey from initial feelings as a teenage boy of abnormality to the person she is today. During this time she spent some time as a teacher and taught in some local schools, having even taught some of the year 9 students that she spoke to today.

She left the students with some facts to think about in the continuous struggle to gain equality for all. For example the wage gap which shows that women earn just 79p for every £1 earned by a man, the fact that less than a 1/3 of the government seats are held by women and that only three of the top companies in the country are run by women. Pretty surprising facts for 2016! And proof that the struggle for equality still continues today.

Students were told about organisations over the years that have been set up in an attempt to educate people and change their views about alternative lifestyles, such as Stonewall which was set up in reaction to the Government’s refusal to allow any alternative lifestyles to be promoted or accepted in schools.

Students then had the opportunity to ask questions of Juno. They asked about the possibility of her books being made into films, advice she would give to teenagers in the LGBT community, organisations and support for young people and why she began to write.

It was an inspiring assembly for our young people and stressed that no matter who you are or the type of lifestyle you want to lead you can be successful. It also highlighted the very real problem of equality that still exists in society today and left the students with a lot to think about. They were also told how one small thing they do, such as setting up a group within school, can then span out to a better school for people and in turn a better Brighton. Students went away with the challenge to see if they can do one small thing to help make a difference.