Yewstock School and College won Pride Group of the Year at the Just Like Us Awards 2023. 

Hosted by Char Bailey and Megan Crabb, the awards recognised heroes in five categories: LGBT+ Inclusive Teacher of the Year, Ambassador of the Year, Corporate Volunteer of the Year, Mentor of the Year and Pride Group of the Year (sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co).

Just Like Us is the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity. The organisation is known for School Diversity Week, their annual UK-wide celebration of LGBTQ+ equality in schools and colleges.

The ceremony, which took place on 13 July, featured appearances from stars such as presenter and DJ Harriet Rose, Heartstopper’s Corinna Brown and Tobie Donovan, Everyone’s Talking About Jamie alum Layton Williams, singer-songwriter Låpsley, Paralympian gold-medalist Lauren Rowles, swimmer Michael Gunning, dancer and film director Shiva Raichandani, writer and activist Eva Echo, and the cast of I Kissed a Boy – the UK’s first-ever same-sex dating series.

Rising rapper Keanan also delivered a medley of his most beloved tracks including Obstacle, Exhale, Inhale, Country Boy and Ooh La La, as well as new single Butterscotch, which is due for release on 4 August.

Pride Group of the Year was presented by Corinna Brown and Tobie Donovan, best known for their breakout roles as Tara Jones and Isaac Henderson in Netflix’s acclaimed LGBTQ+ series Heartstopper.

Heartstopper is a show that follows the lives of LGBT+ young people and school shapes so much of their experiences. Having played Tara in Heartstopper, I know just how common it is for young lesbians to feel ashamed of who they are,” said Brown. “In fact, Just Like Us’ research showed that 68% of lesbians delay coming out because they feel ashamed.”

Donovan added: “We need to make sure that LGBT+ young people don’t grow up feeling ashamed of who they are. Just Like Us helps schools to set up Pride Groups so they have a lunchtime club in school, where they can go to feel safe and accepted.

“The winner of this award is a school that has shown outstanding efforts to platform the voices of all their Pride Group members and improve their school for everyone.”

Yewstock School and College has gone above and beyond to help LGBTQ+ students feel safe and celebrated at school. Additionally, the school’s Rainbow Alliance meets weekly to discuss LGBTQ+ topics, read stories and host group activities.

During this year’s School Diversity Week, the Rainbow Alliance held a mini Pride festival for the school, which featured a performance from a local singer, a doughnut sale, photo booth, raffle and more.

Yewstock School and College staff champion Naomi Culley said: “All the students that take part in our Rainbow Alliance work so hard to go above and beyond to organise events in school to raise awareness of diversity and the importance of inclusion for all students in our school.

“Our students represent many other students across the country and worldwide, who are trying to find their place in the world and to be true to who they are.”

The runners-up for the Pride Group of the Year award were Beths Grammar School in Kent and Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend, Wales.

Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, said: “All of Just Like Us’ more than 300 Pride Groups across the UK are making positive change, whether that is within their school or even in their local community. 

“I would like to extend my congratulations to Yewstock School and College for winning Pride Group of the Year at the Just Like Us awards 2023, as well as to our runners up Beths Grammar School and Brynteg Comprehensive School, and thank the school staff and pupils involved for their enthusiasm and hard work on LGBT+ inclusion.”

The Just Like Us Awards were sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

GAY TIMES was the official media partner.