Pride Month Talk with Dr Clara Barker

25 June 2021

Written by Caitlin and Olivia, Year 13

To celebrate this Pride, we invited an LGBTQ+ speaker, Dr Clara Barker, to speak to the whole school for the PSHCE session on the 15th June. Dr Barker is a trans woman working as a material scientist at Oxford University. In addition to her work for the department, she is the vice-chair of the Oxford LGBTQ+ Advisory Group and has also worked with Stonewall and local youth groups, including Topaz, in the past. We were particularly excited about this opportunity to bring LGBTQ+ issues to the entire school community, not just members of the LGBTQ+ club. Having a whole-school platform for an LGBTQ+ speaker has happened only once before at OHS. So following Ian McKellen’s visit in 2017, we were keen to invite a transgender speaker this year in order to improve the school environment for genderqueer students at OHS. We heard Clara give a talk to LGBTQ+ club when we were in Year 9 and felt she was absolutely brilliant so she was the first person we thought of as a potential speaker this time around. We were thrilled when she accepted our invitation to come back to OHS.

Clara spoke about LGBTQ+ representation in science, her experience of being trans in a STEM environment, and how important diversity is in every aspect of life. It was really interesting to learn that companies that put more effort into being diverse actually make greater profits, which proves that diversity and inclusion benefit everybody. At the start, she also gave everyone an outline of key information about the LGBTQ+ community such as what different LGBTQ+ flags represent and what the term LGBTQ+ stands for and means. This meant the talk was accessible for everybody in the school, which was really important for us. We were also able to take questions from the students and teachers after her talk, which gave people the opportunity to ask relevant questions about coming out, being a supportive ally, as well as further developing aspects of her talk. Clara’s talk was inspiring and educational – we hope that students enjoyed it. We’re so glad she was able to come in (albeit virtually!). We want to thank students and staff for tuning in. Happy Pride Month!

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