A few years ago, a group of sixth formers came together to create the GSA (then called the Gay-Straight Alliance) in response to the prevalence of homophobia in the school and the lack of basic inclusion of LGBT+ people in the sex and relationships PSHE curriculum. LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and the ‘+’ encapsulates the wide variety of other sexual orientations and gender identities. GSA was an alliance between LGBT+ people and allies alike, supported by both students and teachers who wanted to make a difference.

The role of the GSA is vital, and we’re very lucky to have one at our school. In Britain’s schools 45% of LGBT+ pupils — including 64% of trans pupils — are bullied for being LGBT+, half of LGBT+ pupils hear homophobic slurs 'frequently' or 'often' at school, and more than one in five young LGBT+ people have attempted to take their own life (1). These statistics are utterly heartbreaking and they highlight how important it is for schools to take an active interest in the well-being of LGBT+ pupils and strive towards creating a kind, accepting and inclusive environment.

This year we have rebranded the GSA and renamed it ‘Gender and Sexuality Acceptance’ to better reflect what the GSA represents — an inclusive and accepting community with members of a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities — and the changing attitudes and awareness present in society. We are a diverse group of LGBT+ people and allies, we meet every Wednesday lunchtime in T32 and we continue to help tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. Furthermore, we support the school in rejuvenating the PSHE curriculum. Our meetings involve both important discussions and fun activities like organising DCGS Pride, hosting movie screenings and even baking cakes!

In light of this rebranding, we wanted to redesign the GSA logo so we thought this was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with the school’s Graphics department. The GCSE Graphics students took part in a competition to design the new logo for the GSA, and over the past few weeks they have worked hard to create and perfect their final designs. Their teacher, Ms Connell, noted how professional and enthusiastic students were, as they were keen to learn about the LGBT+ community and talk to us about the GSA and what it means to us.

The designs submitted were phenomenal. We were shocked by the professional quality of the designs and the thought that had clearly been put into every aspect of every design. We discussed them at length in a GSA meeting and received input from a variety of teachers and the headmaster before deciding on the winner. It was a very close call as there were so many excellent designs but we finally chose the winner: Ryan McCluskey.

Ryan’s design was outstanding, both from a design and conceptual point of view; the cohesion between the shapes and shades of colours in both the typography and the logo, combined with the symbolism of unity in the 'chain link' between the gay pride colours on the left and the trans pride colours on the right, coupled with the black and brown stripes to show solidarity with queer people of colour, all in the shape of a heart, works to create a stunning logo that perfectly encapsulates what the GSA stands for!

We extend thanks to Ms Connell and every member of the GCSE Graphics class for being a part of this cross-curricular project, we are certain that many of you will go on to be highly successful designers if you so desire and we wish you the very best of luck in whatever career you choose to pursue.

Any students and staff who wish to show their support for LGBT+ people in the school community are welcome to pick up a badge from Matron or Mrs Akerman and wear it around school. If you would like to get involved with the GSA, feel free to email or talk to Mr Burn (sbu@challoners.org). Our next project is to form an alliance with LGBT+ societies in nearby schools to widen our community and provide resources and support to schools all around Buckinghamshire.

References: 1 https://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/lgbt-facts-and-figures