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Another Queer Girl in an All-Girls School: Who Would’ve Thought?

Olivia talks about making a positive change toward LGBTQIA+ inclusion and support at school, somewhere we spend the majority of our time.


Alongside the Year 11 obsession with Atypical’s Casey Gardner came the introduction of bisexuality, pushing both myself and my friendship group to undergo a massive change.


It seemed my friends underwent some sort of awakening and came out (pun intended) with their newfound identities quickly, whilst I took ages to come to terms with being bi. However, being a part of the ‘gay’ group happened almost overnight and, regardless of my friends creating a warm and welcoming environment for everyone, it was still a scary realisation. 


Coming to terms with who you are means you also have to come to terms with how the world will react. 


For the majority of us: unapproving families, religions and cultures as well as the over-approval from those who fetishise queer women, as an added struggle to being just a woman. 


As much as I wanted to, I couldn't fix the world or change the minds of every homophobic family member my friends and I faced. So I decided to work on the one environment I could change: the one we shared - school. 


The first step was creating somewhere to get a foot in the bureaucratic doorway; to show students that something could change. After going to every pastoral teacher, I was given a noticeboard which I decorated with a flag, information, and the names of sixth-form students who put themselves forward to be peer mentors for the queer community at the school. It was a small step, but it was a start.


When prefect roles came around, I was awarded the role of Diversity and Inclusion prefect with my co-prefect. Together, we delivered assemblies for neurodiversity, race, and religion - but our first true success was our pride celebration. 


None of the students knew it, but we fought very hard for that day. Teachers attempted to stop our celebrations with the excuse of exams taking place, despite creating a similar display to ours for the Platinum Jubilee. We refused to accept these double standards and pressed for a lunchtime celebration instead!


The school was decked out with decorations and each year group had a colour to dress in for the day, and a photo was taken of the pride flag made of students. That day I had a conversation with a teacher who said that when she started teaching at the school she was ‘encouraged to keep their sexuality to themself’. Now, with the work done for queer recognition by the Diversity and Inclusion dedicated Sixth Formers, they felt they could finally be open about who they were. This was my first concrete sign that we had made a difference. 


To this day it remains my proudest moment.


When I started at Matriarch, Ria said ‘Be the change you needed when you were younger’. I was lucky: my friends gave me a feeling of safety and love that I didn’t always feel for being who I was.  For students who didn’t have that, I wanted to pay that feeling forward because everyone deserves to feel safe somewhere. If not at home, at school. 


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