Review: This week in Brexit

David Paul gives us a round-up of a few big Brexit topics this week:

If you would like to see more news surrounding Brexit, visit our Brexit section here.

Are single-sex schools still relevant?

Do single-sex schools still have a place in our society? (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

Whether single-sex schools still have a place in society today is a much contested issue.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot since leaving the all-girls secondary school I attended for eight formative years of my life. There’s a valid argument that dividing pupils by gender is an antiquated idea, but I think the system still has merit today.

I honestly believe that I owe all of my self-confidence to being surrounded by kind, wonderful and phenomenally driven women.

Attending an all-girls school meant that I was not impacted by the gender stereotypes I may have been at a mixed school, as all activities and subjects were available to us without question.

I went to an all-girls school for eight years (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

I only realise now how important it was to have this ‘girl power’ rhetoric constantly reinforced. I felt more myself at 18, having been surrounded by the same girls since I was 11, than I perhaps do now after four years at university.

Some research has been done into the benefits of single-sex education, and in exam season there are often articles suggesting that single-sex schools perform better.

Grace Duncan, 21, who attended an all-girls school in London said, “I think going to a girls school made me more confident to follow my own path and helped me recognise that I’m no less competent than a man. It also gave me a strong circle of female friends that I know will weather any storm, because once you’ve survived eight years in an all-girls school together you can survive anything.”

In contrast, some girls feel cheated that they have missed out on a mixed education. Lucy Booth, who was in  a single-sex school from age five says, “I would have liked to experience what school was like with boys. I had problems with girls being cliquey at school and there was no one to go to about it. Girls schools are all about what the girls want and need which is good, but I think we need to learn to be with boys because leaving a girls school when you’ve been there since age five is terrifying.”

Maybe a middle ground needs to be found in single sex education as Rachel Fox, who went to an all-girls boarding school with an all-boys partner school, describes. She said, “We had a diamond structure to our school, where we were mixed for primary, separated for classes from S1 to S5 and then in classes together again in our last year. It was good because we were separated for the most important years when we needed to concentrate on our grades”.

I found my all-girls school a safe and positive environment, but this is not always the case. Major improvements need to be made to how single-sex schools handle their LGBT+ pupils. Single-sex schools will only remain relevant if they learn to handle gender identity appropriately.

Layla Moran MP introduced a bill to the House of Commons on Wednesday arguing that gender neutral school uniforms should be adopted by all schools, something that could definitely stop single-sex schools from gender stereotyping or excluding their LGBT+ pupils. Read more about the bill here.

Should school uniforms be gender neutral?

A bill has been proposed that would make all school uniforms gender neutral. (Credit: Luka Kenyon)

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP, has introduced a bill to the House of Commons that would require school uniform policies in the UK to be gender neutral.

In a piece for Metro, Moran wrote, “I want gender neutral uniforms to be law because what children wear doesn’t affect how they learn.”

She added, “From the day a child starts primary school, gendered uniform policies send the message that boys – who get to wear trousers –should be running around and playing sport, but a girl made to wear a skirt should not.”

Moran has introduced this bill to mark International Women’s Day, asserting that the Liberal Democrats want school children to not be confined by outdated gendered norms.

But what is meant by gender neutral uniform? What clothing options would this policy include?

We asked some students what they think about the proposed policy.

 

Time for a Keychange

PRS Foundation’s Keychange initiative is determined to make the music industry more equal.

PRS Foundation is an independent charitable foundation, funded by PRS for Music, that aims to support new music.

With a wide range of grants and funding, PRS Foundation works tirelessly to support musicians of all genres at important stages of their careers.

Currently, only 16% of PRS members are women, which is why PRS Foundation continue to make a special effort to support the careers of female songwriters, artists and producers.

The Women Make Music grant was introduced in 2011 to support female songwriters and composers and to raise awareness of the gender gap in the industry by increasing the profile of women making music in the UK.

In a similar way, the Lynsey de Paul Prize offers solo female musicians funding and support, in memory of award-winning songwriter and producer Lynsey de Paul, who passed away in 2014.

The launch of the Keychange initiative is PRS Foundation’s most recent step towards an equal music industry.

Keychange is a talent support initiative that invests in women working in music from across Europe. Though 60 female artists and innovators were originally chosen to take part, the initiative has grown to support women across the music industry.

Keychange was founded in partnership with 7 festivals from across Europe and even in Canada, who set themselves a five-year goal of reaching a 50:50 gender balance on their stages. Keychange has continued to encourage festivals from across Europe to sign up to achieve a 50:50 gender balance at their events by 2022.

In just over a year, more than 150 festivals have set themselves this target. PRS Foundation research showed that when the initiative was launched in 2017, female artists made up just 26% of the line-up in a sample of big music festivals in the UK.

Wide Days, XpoNorth, Sonica Festival and Celtic Connections are just some of the festivals in Scotland that have signed up to the Keychange pledge.

The Keychange manifesto was even presented at European Parliament at the end of 2018, outlining the current gender gap in the industry and suggesting ways gender equality can be achieved across the industry.

The important aspect of initiatives like Keychange is that the 50:50 target can be applied to many aspects of the music industry.

Vanessa Reed presented the Keychange manifesto to European Parliament. (Credit: @keychangeeu on Instagram)

PRS Foundation CEO and founder of the initiative Vanessa Reed says, “I think Keychange is a useful example of positive collective action stimulating and inspiring change”.

She adds, “There’s no reason why we couldn’t adapt this kitemark to represent new commitments from across the industry, for example for orchestras, promoters, trade bodies and radio stations. The way they approach the pledge is likely to vary but the principles will remain the same – aiming for a more balanced industry which will be better for everyone.”

For more about Keychange and a full list of festivals that have signed up in time for festival season this year visit keychange.eu.

Discussion: School Children protest climate change

This week EN4 News has been looking at rebels with a cause. Last week school children across the UK skipped lessons to protest the Government’s lack of action in addressing climate change. 

Olivia Hill and Luka Kenyon discuss the government’s response to these protests and what can be done to make sure young activists are taken seriously.

Art or Vandalism?

Graffiti adorns dull corners of Edinburgh, bringing colour to brick walls, doors and alleyways. EN4 News photographer Maria Gran explored some well-known graffiti spots in the city in an attempt to find out if this is all accessible art, or simply distasteful markings.

The adventure begins in the Innocent railway tunnel in Newington, now a cycle and footpath frequently used by the population.

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Credit: Maria Gran

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“Let’s Do Something Wrong” Credit: Maria Gran

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“Before toast was invented, did people still smell toast when having a stroke?” Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

Maria also checked out Edinburgh’s Cowgate, an area frequented by party-goers and students, as well as lots of graffiti artists

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Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

The final spot is Marine Parade Graffiti Wall in Newhaven. This wall features 330 metres of legal graffiti from artists both from Scotland and overseas.

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Credit: Maria Gran

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A portrait of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

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Credit: Maria Gran

 

Man sentenced over death of Louella Fletcher-Mitchie

A man has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for the manslaughter of Louella Fletcher-Michie, who died at Bestival in 2017.

Ceon Broughton, Louella’s then-boyfriend, supplied her drugs and filmed her as she died.

Louella Fletcher-Michie took 2-CP at Bestival in Dorset in September 2017 and died in the woodland surrounding the site just an hour before her 25th birthday.

Broughton is said to have “bumped up” Louella’s dose of the hallucinogenic drug.

During the trial, the jury was shown videos taken by Broughton as Louella’s condition deteriorated. In some of the footage, she was seen shouting at her boyfriend to phone her mother, to which he calls her a “drama queen”.

The 30-year-old was also sentenced over three charges of supplying drugs.

Ryan Adams cancels UK tour amidst sexual assault allegations

Ryan Adams has cancelled all dates of his UK tour. (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Ryan Adams has cancelled his entire upcoming UK tour, amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.

All nine dates of the tour, including a night at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, have been called off.

This morning, Ticketmaster tweeted to confirm that full refunds would be processed for all ticket holders by Monday.

A number of fans had already attempted to refund their tickets, tweeting that they could no longer support the artist following the allegations.

The cancelations come two weeks after the New York Times published a report claiming that Adams had sent inappropriate messages to a teenage girl.

The FBI have since confirmed that they are investigating the texts to determine whether Adams was aware of her age.

Adams’ initially tweeted that the newspaper was “going down” in response to the article. However, he deleted the tweet before issuing an official statement calling the article “unsettlingly inaccurate”.

The New York Times has published three articles this month piecing together a number of allegations against Adams, including interviews with women who imply Adams offered them career help in return for sex, and allegations of abuse from the musician’s ex-wife, Mandy Moore.

Government to pay Eurotunnel £33m over Brexit ferry lawsuit

The government have agreed to pay £33m to Eurotunnel to settle a lawsuit over increased ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In December, the Department for Transport awarded three contracts to suppliers to provide additional ferry services.

Eurotunnel previously argued that the contracts were handed out in a ‘secretive’ way and wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in January to complain that it had not been considered for a contract.

Eurotunnel argued that they should have been approached by the government, as they’d previously run a successful cross-Channel ferry service.

In a statement accompanying the agreement, Mr Grayling said: “While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”

Has Pride become problematic?

This week Ariana Grande was announced as the headline act for Manchester’s Pride Festival, which will take place in August. 

Controversy over the festival line up has been rife online, as many have criticised the lack of openly LGBT+ acts on the bill. Manchester Pride organisers have already faced criticism over this year’s high ticket prices, as many fear the price of the event will lead it to be less inclusive.

The line up for Manchester’s Pride celebrations has opened a wider debate online surrounding the true purpose of Pride celebrations.

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(Credit: Manchester Pride)

Ariana Grande responded to criticism on Twitter, first addressing the fact that she had no impact or say on the ticket price, and secondly to express her excitement to be headlining the event for a community that has been special to her and supportive of her throughout her career.

Grande made the valid point that straight allies such as Kylie Minogue and Cher have previously performed at Pride events, as a way of showing their personal support for the LGBT+ community.

The problem is surely not that straight artists are performing at Pride events, but that straight artists are often chosen over LGBT+ artists due to popularity and the need to sell tickets. This leads to questions over the purpose of Pride today and what the event has come to mean.

It is a complicated debate as Pride events often aim to raise money for LGBT+ charities, so of course ticket sales are important. But are they more important than giving a platform to LGBT+ artists and performers?

Pride is supposed to be a chance to celebrate equality, inclusiveness and all the progress made against discrimination of the LGBT+ community. It is also a defiant, public sign of solidarity against the prejudice that continues today. It is important to question whether the commercialisation of Pride, as it grows in size in cities across the UK every year, has had an impact on its true purpose.

Olly Alexander, frontman of pop group Years & Years who are also on the bill for this year’s Manchester Pride, took to Twitter to weigh in on the debate. As an openly gay artist, Olly agreed that he would love to see more LGBT+ acts at Pride events, yet he also picks up on how “problematic” Pride has become.

Has celebrating Pride in such a commercial way, with companies and shops stocking and pushing rainbow items for just one month each year, made it less meaningful?

Olly makes the valuable argument that if an effort was made to support LGBT+ artists all year round, it would be more likely that we’d find them at the top of the bill at Pride events, because they would be popular enough to sell the tickets. This argument could definitely be applied to many other aspects of Pride as, in order for Pride to have the meaning it intends to, thought needs to be given to the LGBT+ community all year round.

Arguably, an incredibly famous, straight artist like Ariana Grande performing at Pride is a sign of, and a testament to, the progress that has been made towards equality. No matter how commercialised it has become, Pride is so famous that it cannot be separated from being an LGBT+ event. Therefore, huge stars performing openly and proudly in support of the LGBT+ community, no matter what their own sexual orientation may be, is proof of the huge progress towards equality that has been made since the first Pride celebration in 1972.

Grande’s wish to “celebrate and support this community, regardless of my identity” is exactly the kind of attitude that should be welcomed, and her suggestion that there is “room for us to talk about these issues without equating a performance *for* an LGBTQ audience with an exploitation of the LGBTQ community” is also incredibly valid.

When questioning whether someone is celebrating or exploiting a group they are not part of, it’s necessary to consider the intention or motivation behind their actions. It’s pretty clear that Ariana Grande genuinely wants to perform at Pride in solidarity with the LGBT+ community in Manchester. It’s also worth noting that Ariana’s link to the city,  since 22 people were killed in a terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester Arena in 2017, undoubtedly drives her wish to return and perform at Manchester Pride.

Is it not incredibly beneficial that artists who are well known and have a voice stand up for causes they believe in? Stars like Ariana Grande have a responsibility to actively stand up for causes they support, because they have a platform to. I don’t think that their support should be rejected at any point, because it all adds to the advance towards equality.

Tickets for Manchester’s Pride Festival are available on Ticketmaster.

 

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