“Some people succeed and find happiness DESPITE what happens to them in school.
“We work to make that happen BECAUSE of what happens in school.”
That quote from Kirkcaldy High School rector Derek Allan last week sums up the ethos at my old school entirely these days, and I couldn’t be more proud of the staff and pupils for the incredible work that’s going on there.
Another example has been highlighted this week after KHS won the top award at last week’s COSLA Excellence Awards, but it’s particularly pertinent for me as it’s a really encouraging sign of the times when you consider why it was singled out.
The school’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT+) took the President’s Award for its work in tackling negative attitudes, discrimination and bullying across the school, as well as improving the mental health and life chances of LGBT+ young people in Fife.
When I was a pupil there 20 years ago, there wasn’t a rainbow flag in sight, let alone being waved proudly as it has been of late and many of my peers were simply too scared to come out.
Those who did were bullied, ostracised and even persecuted at school, and it’s little wonder the LGBT+ community is well known to have suffered disproportionately from depression, anxiety and self-harm over the years.
However, the KHS group has been pro-active in tackling the issue and has contributed significantly towards challenging the hostility and prejudice once commonplace.
KHS is one of Fife’s bigger schools and has a diverse learning community of around 1,100 young people.
About one in three are said to be living in some of the country’s most deprived datazones. Throw into the mix the usual anxieties around being a teenager growing up in Kirkcaldy and it’s fair to say it’s not an easy ride for pupils.
Yet ou have pupils from all year groups not only standing up for rights and equality but in doing so, immeasurably improving the confidence and mental health of LGBT+ young people in their school, across Fife and beyond.
— Carrie Lindsay (@carrielnds) October 11, 2018
It would be patronising to call them brave — they are inspirational young people, a credit to themselves and a credit to their school.
And they are now making waves in other schools, with health boards, Stonewall Scotland and the Scottish Government all sitting up and taking notice.
— John Swinney (@JohnSwinney) October 12, 2018
It’s a real success story and an award that’s richly deserved. Kudos to all at KHS.