Easthampstead Park school pupil honoured for work to tackle homophobia

Published: 9 May 2014 11:150 comments

A PUPIL was honoured for his dedication to tackling homophobia at an awards ceremony with Sir Ian McKellen.

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Ben Mitchell, who attends Easthampstead Park Community School, has provided guidance to both staff and students to show how to eradicate the problem.

He ran a series of workshops showing how homophobic language should be dealt with and how issues about homosexuality could be integrated into the curriculum.

The 16-year-old also carried out PSHE (personal, social and health education) lessons to Year Seven students within the school about the effects that homophobic language can have and how using it out of context creates stereotypes within society.

This resulted in each student signing a pledge promising not to use homophobic language as they had learned why it was wrong.

He was among more than 30 volunteers honoured at Stonewall’s annual youth awards last month for helping to promote equal rights. Among those who attended was Sir Ian, actor and gay rights campaigner.

Ben said: “I have loved working with Stonewall for the past six months and would love to carry on my work long after leaving this programme.

“Knowing I have helped students of all ages within my school have a better and more equal education is a great feeling and by completing the campaign, I have also gained confidence and many new abilities that I can take into my future.

“I am hugely shocked I was shortlisted for the award but am grateful to everybody who has appreciated the work and effort that I have put into my campaign.

“I hope what I have achieved will be taken further within my school and more students can follow the path that I took so that they can enjoy the same experiences that I have on the Youth Volunteering Scheme.’

The Stonewall Youth Awards marked the end of this year’s Stonewall Youth Volunteering Programme, supported by Lloyds Banking Group.

The free six-month programme launched in 2009 and has helped hundreds of young people develop and run campaigns to tackle homophobia.For details, see www.youngstonewall.org.uk

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