Equality and Inclusion Day 2024
Equality and Inclusion Day at Reading Blue Coat Welcomes ‘Everyday Sexism Project’ Founder, Laura Bates
Reading Blue Coat celebrated an inspiring Equality and Inclusion Day on Tuesday, January 23rd, featuring the esteemed guest speaker Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project. An author and feminist activist, Laura has devoted her career to addressing gender inequality.
The Everyday Sexism Project, initiated by Laura in 2012, has become a global platform for individuals to share their personal encounters with sexism. The initiative has empowered over 200,000 people to voice their experiences, prompting a global conversation on the pervasive issue of gender-based discrimination. Laura’s contributions extend beyond the project, with eight published books translated into seven languages and regular columns in leading periodicals. Her numerous accolades include the 2015 British Empire Medal, the WMC Digital Media Award, the Georgina Henry prize, and recognition in prestigious lists like the BBC Woman’s Hour Power List and CNN’s 10 Visionary Women List. Her speaking work includes TEDx talks and has taken her from Wembley Stadium to Sydney Opera House, the House of Lords, and President Obama’s White House Summit on the United State of Women – which is why we were so delighted to be able to welcome Laura to our school.
Laura engaged students with presentations tailored to Years 7-9, Years 10 and 11, and the Sixth Form, addressing gender inequality through media bias, political disparities, and gender stereotypes. The discussions aimed to dismantle myths and challenge misconceptions. Laura managed to pitch this perfectly, making the issues clear to each age group and encouraging our students to think about what they can do to create positive change and create a more equal future.
Laura’s presentations reinforced the school’s commitment to inclusivity. The school has a number of inclusion groups, supporting students to celebrate their identity, meet with like-minded people and lead impactful change within the school. Members of our inclusion groups lead assemblies, organise events and regularly meet with leadership members to feedback on issues important to them.
• Café Neuro – The group is student led to support and discuss matters of a neurodiverse nature. It extends to well-being and learning issues, aiming to provide a friendly setting in which to explore unique talents and challenges both at school and life beyond. Neurodiversity is not a requirement to attend although most have a personal interest.
• Inter-Faith Group – Our Inter-faith group meet weekly at chaplaincy, where students from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds come together to promote mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration. The group serve as a platform for open dialogue, allowing participants to share their beliefs, practices, and traditions, fostering a sense of community and empathy among people from different faiths.
• Mandela Society – The Mandela Society discuss issues related to racial and cultural equality. It is the group’s goal to help educate and heighten awareness on issues of race, religion, and culture at RBC, but predominantly through a lens of celebration.
• Pride Society – The Pride Society meets weekly and offers a safe space and support for all LGBTQ+ students and their allies.
• SAFE Society – SAFE stands for “Striving Altogether For Equality”. The group discusses issues related to gender equality and work with the School to suggest and organise initiatives that promote gender equality.
These groups aim to promote inclusivity, and collectively work towards contributing to a more equal and harmonious school community.
The day continued with students engaging in a variety of activities encouraging inclusivity. A friendly and energetic mixed-gender netball match was an introduction to a sport that some of our male students had not had the opportunity to try before. There were also creative activities including arts and crafts and a Chinese calligraphy workshop hosted by Nathan L (Year 11). Nathan guided students in the art of writing Fai Chun (揮春), demonstrating characters like 福, symbolising good fortune or luck. Traditionally, these characters adorn windows and doors to invite good fortune. The activities all contributed to making the day a vibrant mix of fun and thoughtfulness.
We would like to thank Laura Bates for joining us to celebrate Equality and Inclusion Day and sharing her insightful talks, which were a reminder that each one of us can help to cultivate a more inclusive space.
Special thanks to Dr Sarah Langdon, Director of EDI, for orchestrating such a successful day of learning and engagement.