Our first ‘Gay Pride’ Focus Week was designed to tie into the forthcoming ‘Pride’ carnival in Birmingham and brought special assemblies, tutor time activities and the latest round in the House Debating Competition.

It was the turn of our Year 8 students in the most recent round of the Friary School’s Debating Competition. The Year 8 students had one of the most challenging topics to-date for their debate: whether or not Pride festivals are the best and most effective way to recognise and celebrate LGBT culture and pride.

There’s no doubt that the Pride events are fantastic for raising awareness and allowing people to celebrate who they are. Given that they have done a tremendous amount for the LGBT movement over the past 20 years or so, the debate focussed on whether or not Pride festivals are still as effective now.

The students did an amazing job and had obviously done their research. There was talk about the important role that Pride festivals have played in raising the status of LGBT across the country, some students even had specific data on funding the festivals and the positive impact that they have had on reducing prejudiced behaviour towards LGBT people. There was also a feeling that the Pride movement is something that we should be very proud of in our country as it shows that we live in a liberal country where people aren’t persecuted as a result of sexual orientation.

There were some strong arguments against Pride too though. Some students felt that the movement made stereotyping worse and that there were other, more effective ways of recognising the LGBT movement. There were also views expressed about how some prejudices still exist, which led to questions about the impact of Pride.

The students showed a real passion for the subject matter being debated and the debates drifted into ways to tackle homophobic views and opinions in the 21st Century.

Jamie Checkland, Chair of Governors, adjudicated the debates and said: “I have been hugely impressed by the levels of preparation and attention to detail that out Year 8 students have put in. This is a very challenging subject to debate and what has shone through is that our students at The Friary have a very strong and mature sense of moral purpose. Whilst the debates also made it clear that our students understand the importance of people being able to be themselves, it is important that they continue to learn about individual choices and develop the courage to tackle homophobic and discriminatory views. The quality of the debating made it virtually impossible to pick a winner, but Garrick just pipped it. Well done too to Matt Cooper and Emily Turner for being crowned most valuable debaters.”

For more details on the Birmingham Pride Carnival (26-27 May) please visit: www.birminghampride.com