Staff and students behind a hugely successful Pride event are celebrating after Bishop Auckland College won two prestigious equality awards.
More than 150 people attended the event, held at the college in June, including staff, students and representatives of organisations including Durham Police, Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Trust, LGBT Unity and DISC Challenging Youth Racism.
The idea behind BAC Pride was to provide a safe arena for students and staff to talk to other people about LGBT issues and gain information about local organisations and support available.
All curriculum areas got involved, with the joinery department carving and painting huge rainbows which decorated the college and provided a backdrop for people on the day to pin inspirational messages.
Catering students and staff baked rainbow cakes to sell on the day, while students from performing arts gave with an emotional performance based around LGBT.
One notable success story was a student who attended with her mum and felt the confidence afterwards to tell her about her same sex relationship. She was delighted and relieved with the positive reaction she received and told her tutor the following day.
But the Pride event was just one example of how equality and diversity is embedded through every policy and practice in the college. This includes comprehensive training for all staff and governors in equality and diversity, British values and Prevent, a transgender policy, and monthly meetings for LGBT students.
The college was also the first further education institution in the country to become a member of The National Association of Women in Construction.
Its efforts were recognised with the presentation of two awards at the North East Equality Awards 2017 held at the Gateshead Hilton Hotel – one for Outstanding Practice and the other for Education and Training Organisations of over 150 staff.
Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison-Terranova, who attended, said after the ceremony: “I’m really proud and delighted to receive these two awards in recognition of our excellent work on the equality and diversity agenda, and in particular the very innovative BAC Pride event. We faced stiff competition from many different types of organisation, including other colleges in the region.
“Personal experiences like the student who after the Pride event felt the confidence to talk to her mum about her sexuality and was so pleased with the positive reaction really demonstrate how important it is to embed equality and diversity throughout every thread of college life.”
The £300 raised at the BAC Pride event was donated to LGBT Unity, a Darlington-based charity.