Bede's Pupils Prove that Equality Still Matters
On Tuesday 11 June, Bede's pupils from across the year groups gathered to discuss a wide range of issues for the interactive 'Equality Still Matters' event. Max Mason, Lower Sixth, reports.
Perhaps what I find so empowering about Bede’s is that the feeling of inactivity is passé. In some places, putting up a brightly-coloured poster in a classroom satisfies the box-tick equality approach, but for us, we believe this can only go so far.
In an age of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousefi, it feels as if young people are waking up to something. It may not be global social justice (yet!), but there is a growing feeling of discontent that young people feel needs swift addressing. It didn’t take long, for example, for this year’s first equality committee to grow in numbers; beginning with a few email conversations and break time discussions, and climaxing, on the 11th June, with a full-scale, symposium-style conference, titled with the rallying cry that ‘Equality Still Matters’.
Across five areas of protected characteristics; race, gender, sexuality, disability and belief, the totally student run event saw workshops, interviews, debates and practical exercises run, concurrently, by the members of the Equality Committee. Whether it be a game of monopoly in which one has the choice to play the ‘race card’, or a sizzling debate about the effects of gay stereotypes, it encouraged a range of year groups and houses, amounting to around one hundred students, to open up about issues that often find themselves glazed over by the pretence of British taboo.
As with some social justice, the small actions of a few key players are paramount. The gender snakes-and-ladders, (in which one progresses or declines based on male and female prejudices), could not have come together without the ingenuity of Megan Hume. The disability activists, Henry Gomer and Francesca Plaskett, provided intriguing insights into the everyday struggles of a disabled person – along with Will Quibell’s compelling perspective on people living with Asberger’s syndrome.
The topic of Belief, broad as it is, was covered comprehensively by an impressive team; lead ably by Kristen Chan, Jenil Patel, Imogen Smith and Stasa Dubak; probing thought-provoking questions on the moral role of religion in political issues. Special recognition must go to Emiliano Casanova Nava; running solo with a rousing presentation on racial profiling. Being only a first year, he has shown courage and wisdom far beyond his years!
Many thanks must also go to Mrs O’Hara and Miss Chen for their unwavering support, and of course, to Marie Boyer, Lower Sixth, whose motivation, savvy and intellect I am always so staggered by. Without her input, this event would not have been half as successful.
I can undoubtedly say that, in a society where human rights still remain under threat, another Bede’s equality conference lays just on the horizon...