[By Pete Offord, Brighton Wednesday branch]
Comrades from Brighton and Hove branch went along to the annual Gay Pride festival in Preston Park on Sat 2 August. The massive march went through the town from the seafront to the site of the festival and was attended by tens of thousands of people expressing their sexuality in an open and friendly environment.
The event was an opportunity for gay people to meet one another and to have fun in safety. For many young people this was their first opportunity to be out and proud in public.
Despite the initial rain early on the day, Socialist Party members ran two successful stalls campaigning for an end to homophobic bullying in schools and against the BNP. These issues are particularly important in the local community as the local Falmer High School is under threat of becoming an academy. Sold to parents and teachers as a positive boost of badly needed funds for children’s education, the reality is that the “sponsor” (in this case Rod Aldridge, a private business man) would be in complete control of the curriculum. This is extremely worrying as in other parts of the country academies have forced the teaching of creationism alongside evolution and phased out education about homosexuality. Academies are also able to select their students leading to children being discriminated against because of their background.
This re-hashing of the Tories City Technology College scheme of the late 1980s shows that the current Labour government is incapable of tackling the issues within education and has no interest in providing comprehensive schools that are available to everyone regardless of race or sexuality. Comprehensive schools, run by the local democratically controlled authority, are currently the best way to provide a fully rounded education for working class kids and to raise the issue of equality between people of all genders. You can sign the local anti-academy petition by clicking here on this link: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/FalmerAcademy/
The response to our message from Pride attendees was extremely positive as the people that we talked to showed genuine concern and understanding about the dangers of academising schools. Our stalls sold out of papers, all our petitions were filled and we raised nearly £100 in funds for campaigning. A good day all round!