A junior college in Reykjavík is hosting a series of events that celebrate, raise awareness and discuss issues relating to the LGBTQAI plus community this week. The programme, which consists of lectures and films about LGBTQAI plus topics, begin today at Verzló (short for Verzlunarskóli Íslands).
The week’s nineteen-year-old organizer says having a LGBTQAI plus week at his school shows there has been progress when it comes to discussing queer topics openly in schools. Björn Ásgeir Guðmundsson founded the LGBTQAI club at Verzló last year and helped organize this week’s events.
“In other schools there have been LGBTQAI week. Although we’ve held one once before it’s the first be put a lot of drive into it here, which is pretty big because Verzló is by far the biggest school,” says Björn. “We have planned lectures throughout the week, so there’s a lecture today, Monday, by Alda Villiljós and they’re going to talk about gender and gender fluidity. And then there’s Ingileif Friðriksdóttir and María Rut Kristinsdóttir who’re going to have a lecture about the Snapchat account Hinseginleikinn. And then there’s the congresswoman Hanna Katrín Friðriksson who’s going to talk about being gay in government and about how everything has changed since she was younger.”
Why is it significant that your school is hosting this week?
“Because usually when people talk about my school, we’re not really known for being that friendly toward the LGBTQAI plus community, when it comes to the issues and generally talking about the topic. But in later years it’s become that.”
Why do you think Verzló has the reputation of being less queer-friendly than other schools?
“Probably because it’s a private school and it used to be pretty much upper class people who didn’t like talking about it. But in later years, especially after there was a feminist club formed, the conversation has really changed.”
“… usually when people talk about my school, we’re not really known for being that friendly toward the LGBTQAI plus community, when it comes to the issues and … the topic. But in later years it’s become that.”
Why did you start the LGBTQAI club at Verzló last year?
“Last year during election week I campaigned to be president of the student council. I didn’t win, but I realized that there was no platform for this discussion. So I noticed that in other schools there was a LGBTQAI plus club, but not at my school. That’s when I realized how much it was needed.”
Iceland is known for its popular Pride celebrations, but why is it important to also have LGBTQ hosted in schools?
“People from this school are going to be high-ranked people in companies and in congress, so it’s important to get the idea that this is important pretty early, especially in schools. So talking about it and making people notice it is really important.”
Is there one event happening this week that you’re particularly excited about?
“I can’t choose between the three lectures because I think they’re all pretty interesting. But the one about gender fluidity, that’s something most people aren’t very informed about it and myself I don’t really know much about it. It’s also a great honour to have Hanna Katrín from Alþingi (the Icelandic congress) come. It will be very interesting to listen to her.”
How do you hope that your school hosting this week will impact how other schools approach LGBTQAI issues?
“If you watched the feminist club, after Verzló started it, it had the affect that other schools starting their own clubs. So I definitely hope that LGBTQAI clubs will be formed in more schools. Because ours is the biggest school and it’s the most visible school, so I hope it will spread to other schools.”
The events continue at Verzó until Friday, September 15 and are open to the public.