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LGBTQ+ event inspires youngsters at Old Trafford

LGBTQ+ allies from our partner schools gathered at Old Trafford for a special event in March.

| by Matthew Brown

Manchester United Foundation invited young people from its partner high schools to reflect on LGBTQ+ History Month with a series of innovative workshops at Old Trafford.

Alongside the Foundation, there was representation at the event from Manchester United’s official LGBTQ+ supporters club, Rainbow Devils, and LGBTQ+ youth charity, the Proud Trust.

Allies of the LGBTQ+ community from three of the Foundation’s partner high schools attended the inclusive and welcoming event, which encouraged young people to express themselves, learn about the use of appropriate terminology and LGBTQ+ representation in football, on and off the pitch.

Young people also explored art therapy with the Rainbow Devils in a competition to design an inclusive flag, with the winning entrant awarded a signed Manchester United football by the Foundation.

Later, pupils had the opportunity to pose questions to those from the Foundation, Rainbow Devils, the Proud Trust and additional representatives of Stonewall and Manchester United, with topics spanning from LGBTQ+ work in football, to panellists’ personal experiences.

It was the first time that the Rainbow Devils had supported a Foundation event, with committee members Lindsay Parr and Cass Hyde both present.

Lindsay, Rainbow Devils vice chair, said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to speak to the young people today. For them to have an opportunity to hear my experiences and share theirs, whilst also asking questions about Rainbow Devils and the LGBTQ+ community is invaluable. Seeing the power of education around things like this has been great.

“A safe space has been created today where the young people can talk about themselves and their identities, ask adult role models about their experiences, and all being done in this setting of what is the biggest football club in the world. It’s a fantastic experience and a massive thing for them to know that this is a club that welcomes all.

“Events like today show that we’re all moving in the same direction, we all want the same thing and we’re all working together, which is the most important thing.”

Partner school pupil Echo was the winner of the Rainbow Devils’ art competition on the day and was rewarded with a signed Manchester United football.

Echo said: “It’s been really interesting and fun, and we have learnt a lot and found out more about people’s experiences in football. “We learnt about the Pride Trust, the Rainbow Devils, and how important football is to people and how people want to be represented in the sport.

“It is important to know that people actually care and that you can enjoy something without being told that it’s not for you. I learnt a lot about how Manchester United represents the community.”

Sophie Sims of the Proud Trust added: “Being LGBTQ+ myself, we sometimes live in a world where not everywhere is considered to be a welcoming place and I think that can sometimes especially be the case in sport.

“Where there are clubs which are specifically reaching out to LGBTQ+ young people, it gives that impression that this is a place that is welcoming of everyone.

“I’ve been so impressed by the young people, they’re really articulate, engaged and interested. I’m really happy that this event has happened and it was very enjoyable for me as well.”