Children inspire fight against homophobia through song

Besi Besemar July 19, 2014

School children sing We might be different but we can still be friends at inspiring event in Birmingham.


The school children were from Brownmead Primary School and Tiverton Academy in Birmingham.

The event was the premier of Educate and Celebrate’s Sing-a-long with CHIPS; Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools and was coordinated by the Birmingham LGBT Schools Advisor Elly Barnes, supported by Birmingham City Council and Service Birmingham.

One of the most magical moments during the evening on July 16 happened when a group of primary school children sang a song to a book called 10,000 Dresses.

The book by Marcus Ewart is about a boy who dreams of dresses and is rejected by his family and friends when he tells them of these dreams. The children sang a beautiful song written especially for the occasion and when asked would they speak to the “10,000 dresses boy’” they answered with a resounding yes and that they would love him anyway.

This message of recognising but accepting differences was the overriding theme at the event enjoyed by parents, musicians, singers as well as school teachers, governors and of course, the school children themselves.

The songs the children sang were original compositions composed especially for the event. The ‘CHIPS’ resources used to inspire the songs consist of 20 beautifully illustrated books about diversity and different families.

Andrew Moffat, the creator of the resources introduced the event, saying: “People are different – they speak different languages, like different things, come from different types of families. Ultimately though we have many things in common as highlighted by one of the songs ‘we might like different things but we can still be friends.”

Singer, songwriter Vix composed five of the songs including The crocodile who didn’t like water (spoiler alert: he’s a dragon!), the widely recognised Elmer the patchwork elephant by David Mckee and King and King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland about two princes who fall in love and marry.

Elly Barnes sang a duet with Will Wood to the book Rabbityness. The book tells a sweet story about a rabbit that likes doing ‘unrabbity’ things such as painting and encourages his friends to do different things too. Elly spoke about the types of books used and outlined what made the event so special:

She said: “As a former music teacher, it was a natural step to use the arts as a vehicle to create positive change in our primary schools. Bringing together the books, musicians, composers, teachers and school choirs has been an absolute joy. The project will continue until all 20 songs are recorded and are accessible for all to download from our websites. The Educate and Celebrate programme is being rolled out for free to all Birmingham schools and advocates an inclusive curriculum to eradicate all forms of discrimination. Putting stories about difference to music is an activity all children, teachers and parents can access in a fun-loving way. Tonight we ALL had a fantastic time singing along and doing the actions to the colourful, funny, moving and beautiful songs from the CHIPS resource.”

Headteacher Jamie Barry from Welford Primary School, who was supporting the initiative said: ‘The recent “Trojan Horse” inspections within schools have highlighted the importance of celebrating diversity and ensuring equality for all. At Welford, we take this very seriously and work with our community to ensure we live and breath our ethos of “Community, Opportunity & Achievement for all”. EVERYONE has a place at Welford! Differences exist and we don’t shy away from recognising those differences which is why ‘CHIPS’ (Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools) is an essential resource for helping us teach about different families, relationships and gender identities in line with Ofsted Criteria.”

Parents said the event was “very informative and enjoyable” and that they were proud of their children’s involvement.

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