Claudia White, a Sixth Form student from Bedales, is calling on Brighton’s local community to support her GRIN (Global respect in Education) campaign to change the way sexuality and ‘being different’ is viewed in schools through a protest photo-shoot that will be held at 5pm today (Thursday 6th Jan) at the Thistle Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton.
The Campaign’s ‘RESPECT’ logo will be painted on the faces of local people so that each person can help to support a viral online campaign by using their picture on the profiles of Facebook and Twitter to spread the GRIN message and get everyone to support a change in attitudes in schools.
Assisted in her campaign by friends at Bedales, Claudia issued over 500 emails to local community groups with the support of Brighton and Hove City Council to spread the word and encourage as many people as possible to come along. While many teenagers have been enjoying the Christmas period watching movies and playing games, Claudia and her team have been working hard before they start back at School next week to get local support for the campaign and make a difference in schools.
GRIN’s main aim is to promote respect for pupil’s differences and inspire a global campaign to encourage all schools, whether state or independent, to tackle bullying by making it cool to be different and un-cool to be ignorant. Claudia was driven into action by watching news stories about teenage LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Questioning) bullying and suicide. Claudia has also kept abreast of developments in the US relating to Gay Rights law and finds negative attitudes and laws towards issues such as gays serving in the military unjust. Claudia started to voice her opinions on Twitter and then decided to take her views further by founding GRIN Campaign’s website online at www.grincampaign.com with the aim of making being different ‘cool’ in schools.
Within a week of the website going live, Claudia had over 1000 followers on Twitter consisting of a mixture of gay rights activists, political commentators and university lecturers in the US. Claudia has since used GRIN to mark ‘Spirit Day’ – a day when people around the globe wear purple to raise awareness about LGBTQ bullying and suicide and launched the RESPECT photographic protest supported by Bedales staff and students. Commenting on the RESPECT protest Claudia said: “It is a twenty-first century cyber protest using photos in a fashionable way to show support, acceptance and promote equality for all in education by openly respecting those who are in the LGBTQ community, and those who are ‘just different’. I hope that Brighton’s people will be inspired by this campaign and come along today to show their support to instil the RESPECT ethos in their schools and communities.”
Since founding GRIN Claudia has already raised enough money to cover her costs through donations and her online shop selling branded t-shirts, mugs and caps. Her next goal is to roll-out an education programme to spread the message of GRIN Campaign in schools and to introduce RESPECT in both the US and the UK, showing support for vulnerable children and teenagers through lectures and literature.