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Bake-off success is perfect ending for Clapton Girls' Academy's LGBT history month

PUBLISHED: 11:35 01 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:35 01 March 2017

Clapton Girls Academy students after winning the best secondary school prize for their cake at the Great Rainbow Bake Off.From left to right: Amelie Lindsay-Behrens, 13, Eliza Eaton, 12, Hazel White, 13, and Ella Pankhurst, 13.

Clapton Girls Academy students after winning the best secondary school prize for their cake at the Great Rainbow Bake Off.From left to right: Amelie Lindsay-Behrens, 13, Eliza Eaton, 12, Hazel White, 13, and Ella Pankhurst, 13.

Picture: Catherine Davison

A group of Clapton Girls' Academy students proved that promoting equality is a piece of cake after bagging first place in a national schools bake-off competition on Tuesday.

The winning Clapton Girls' Academy cake.The winning Clapton Girls' Academy cake.

As part of a celebration of LGBT history month, 11 schools from across the country battled it out in a cooking competition designed to spread an anti-bullying message.

The “great rainbow bake-off” was organised by Educate and Celebrate, a charity that aims to help schools become LGBT friendly by creating inclusive environments and eradicating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in communities.

Clapton Girls have been learning about gender identity and sexual orientation in assemblies during February, and the proof was in the pudding as a quartet of Year 8 students baked a winning cake featuring an edible disabled Superman holding hands with Captain America.

Amelie Lindsay-Behrens said: “We felt that people look up to superheroes, so our message of equality is even stronger. Most of us have been really receptive to the messages of the LGBT community.”

Clapton Girls' Academy student Eliza Eaton presenting her team's cake at the Great Rainbow Bake Off, the finale of the Educate & Celebrate for LGBT History Month 2017.Clapton Girls' Academy student Eliza Eaton presenting her team's cake at the Great Rainbow Bake Off, the finale of the Educate & Celebrate for LGBT History Month 2017.

Fellow team-mate Ella Pankhurst added: “Children should grow up with the right to decide whether they are gay, bisexual or lesbian.”

Educate and Celebrate chief executive Elly Barnes was determined to fight for equality after Margaret Thatcher forbade teachers from talking about sexual orientation in the notorious section 28 of the Local Government Act in 1988.

“It is brilliant to see all these schools coming together at Clapton,” she said.

“We want to ‘usualise’ talking about diverse people from LGBT backgrounds in schools.

Clapton Girls' Academy student Ella Pankhurst cuts up her cake with the help of learning support assistant Quay Beale.Clapton Girls' Academy student Ella Pankhurst cuts up her cake with the help of learning support assistant Quay Beale.

“It is all about empowerment and smashing stereotypes.

“We have a constant challenge in trying to educate children about equality, with many governors putting up barriers, but huge progress has been made.

“Hackney Council has also been very supportive of what we are trying to achieve, and The Urswick School hosted the bake-off last year, so the borough is heavily involved in the LGBT community.”

Fellow Educate and Celebrate member Zed Lomax, who teaches art and design at Clapton, knows Dr Barnes from their time spent teaching together at Stoke Newington School.

“It is about giving our students a better understanding of things like sexual orientation and introducing LGBT subject matter into the curriculum,” Zed said.

“There is no doubt that schools are moving in the right direction with regard to being more clued up about gender identity, but a sad truth is that 45 per cent of transgender kids self-harm.

“The important thing is that LGBT material is visible around schools for our students to see.”

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