New play showcases Homophobia and bullying in Manchester Schools
Schools across Manchester are now able to benefit from a new play commissioned by Exceeding Expectations; that tells the stories of local young peoples' experiences of homophobia, and the effects of homophobic bullying in the city's schools.
The play is called OUTLOUD and is performed by members of Hope Theatre Company. Using the words of pupils interviewed exclusively for the piece, it tells the story of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual people in Manchester and their experiences in the wider community. Author and director Adam Zane uses professional actors to discuss homophobia as experienced by the young people through live performance and film.
OUTLOUD also features an extract from a powerful short film, about the murder of Matthew Shepard a young American boy who suffered a savage beating due to homophobic bullying which led to his death. This specially commisioned film is available on DVD for schools to support their PSHE curriculum work.
After a pilot scheme was run throughout 2007, the play's inaugural performance took place in Newall Green High School in Wythenshawe. Year 9 pupils watched the half-hour production before discussing the issue of homophobia in schools and signing the Exceeding Expectations' charter, declaring that they were opposed to homophobic and racist language and bullying.
Newall Green's students found the half-day's activities very effective. "It gave everybody a big shock," said one 13-year-old pupil. "The Matthew Shepard video nearly made me cry."
Although part of the film is very moving, the rest of the film and theatre production is very empowering as Sara Rowland, PSHE Teacher at Newall Green High School points out. "The performance is an effective way of dealing with a sensitive issue. Students' opinions and beliefs were challenged in an enjoyable way."
It seems that the play is hitting home with young people's own experiences in other schools too, "My sister is a lesbian and she's just a normal sister but she had to move school ‘cos she was bullied so much", commented one year 8 pupil at another school.
One pupil from Southern Cross School said,"I feel relieved ‘cos the school can now tell people to stop using ‘GAY' as an abusive word".
The Deputy Head of Southern Cross School points out: "the benefit of the play in our school will hopefully be a greater acceptance of pupils who are lesbian and gay - and the kids need that".
"Staff have expressed how much they had enjoyed OUTLOUD and how valuable it is"
says Jean Rose Head of Personal Development and Assistant Head, North Manchester High School for Girls.
She admits "we as adults - as teachers - think homophobic bullying is a very tough topic to tackle but young people don't necessarily see it in the same light. I have found they are much more open minded in some ways, whereas the teaching staff feel if they are going to tackle an area like this - it is going to open a whole can of worms that teachers would rather keep closed. The young people in our school here have already fed back in large numbers how much they got out of it and how powerful they found it as well as saying they now understand the issues behind it"
If you would like your school to receive the free support package which includes the OUTLOUD play, pupil workshops, staff training, policy support and development and resources - including the OUTLOUD DVD, posters, leaflets etc please email: email@example.com
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