Thousands of schools across the UK are celebrating their LGBTQ+ students with School Diversity Week.

Organised by LGBTQ+ youth charity Just Like Us, the annual celebration runs 21-25 June and provides schools with free resources including online masterclasses on LGBTQ+ history, as well as a panel featuring a lesbian rabbi, a gay imam and trans priest on their faith.

Churwell Primary in Leeds kicked off their event with an LGBTQ+ inclusive dance lesson that challenges gender stereotypes. The institution also changed their school logo to a Pride version, saying: “This week, Guiseley staff and students are celebrating School Diversity Week as part of LGBTQ+ Pride Month!

“At Guiseley, we’re proud of all of our students but extra proud this month! Be proud of who you are! Happy Pride to all of our students!”

St Peter’s School is celebrating School Diversity Week with Rainbow Friday, an opportunity for their students to wear a colour from the rainbow Pride flag. The school said: “The children will be learning about different cultures, experiences and the importance of trying to understand everyone’s point of view no matter their background.”

Just Like Us said School Diversity Week is a chance to “send a positive message to young people about being LGBTQ+ pupils”, who have been twice as likely to feel lonely or worry about their mental health daily during the pandemic than their peers.

The LGBTQ+ charity recently released their full report on LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools. The independent research surveyed 2,934 pupils aged 11-18 (1,140 of whom are LGBTQ+) across 375 schools and institutions in the UK.

It covered anti-LGBTQ+ bullying, wellbeing, sexual harassment, mental health, the struggles of coming out and more. Honestly, the results are quite harrowing and proves that growing up LGBTQ+ in the UK, in 2021, is still extremely tough.

One 18-year-old student, Michael, whose school is currently celebrating School Diversity Week, said: “My rocky path towards realising I was not only transgender, but also a gay man, was one paved with self-doubt and hatred, fuelled by the world around me.

“Events such as School Diversity Week and LGBT History Month increase the visibility of LGBT+ role models like me and my friends within schools, among students and teachers alike, and show that there’s a place for us in the world.”

Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, added: “We’ve seen in our independent research that LGBT+ young people are disproportionately struggling with their mental health, feeling less safe in school and facing more tension at home.

“We’re delighted that thousands of schools across the UK are celebrating School Diversity Week this week and ensuring that young people get the message that: LGBT+ people exist and that’s OK.

“It may sound simple, but the message can be transformational – our independent research found that having positive messaging about being LGBT+ in schools is linked with all pupils having better mental health, whether they’re LGBT+ or not.”

For more information about School Diversity Week, visit Just Like Us’ official website here. You can also read their full report on LGBTQ+ inclusion at schools at this link.