Queer company gives hundreds of LGBTQ+ books to Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman’s constituencies
A queer children’s education company is giving hundreds of books to Tory constituencies after top Conservatives pedalled anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment at the party conference.
CEO and founder of Pop’n’Olly, Olly Pike, told PinkNews his company is donating 300 of its LGBTQ+ books to primary schools in the Richmond, North Yorkshire constituency of prime minister Rishi Sunak and Fareham, Hampshire constituency of home secretary Suella Braverman.
The 37-year-old, who started the company around a decade ago, said he hopes the gesture will “combat negativity and pain with joy” and quipped: “It’s a bit cheeky, but I love it.”
Since 2019, Pop’n’Olly has donated more than 10,000 LGBTQ+ books to primary schools across the UK.
The company often chooses to make donations to areas impacted by devastating events, such a Warrington, following the death of transgender student Brianna Ghey in February.
The donations to Sunak and Braverman’s constituencies follows the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where the top Tories engaged in hateful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
Pike said he was “appalled” and shocked by the duo’s recent comments, which he dubbed “almost laughable” and “distraction tactics” due to “being on a sinking ship”.
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On Wednesday (4 October), the prime minister claimed the British public are being “bullied” into believing that “people can be any sex they want to be”, adding: “A man is a man, and a woman is a woman, that’s just common sense.” He has since doubled down on his comments.
Meanwhile, health secretary Steve Barclay stated is his intention to ban transgender women from women’s hospital wards – despite UK research showing there has not been a single complaint about cis and trans women sharing wards.
Suella Braverman, who backed Barclay’s plan, recently attacked UK police for engaging with the queer community at Pride events, claimed migrants lie about being gay to enter the country and said LGBTQ+ refugees facing persecution in their home countries is not “sufficient” to claim asylum in the UK.
Pop’n’Olly’s donations also come as data released by the home office on Thursday (5 October) revealed that transphobic hate crimes rose in England and Wales by 11 per cent to 4,732 recorded offences in 2022-2023.
In a briefing outlining the latest figures, the Home Office said the sharp rise in hate crimes against trans people is potentially being fuelled by anti-trans comments by politicians.
Anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in politics can sadly also lead to protests at schools by what Pike describes as “scared” parents, who never had the chance to benefit from LGBTQ-inclusive education.
In July 2023, more than 100 “furious” parents protested against “age-inappropriate” LGBTQ-inclusive education outside a school in Manchester.
The protest was against the school’s relationships and sexuality education (RSE) lessons, which focus on teaching students about positive relationships, particularly friendships, family relationships and relationships with other children and with adults.
Pike said it makes him feel “scared, concerned and nervous” to think that such vital topics could be banned.
But, he said, “ultimately I feel powerful because we’re on the right side of history”.
He added: “Good will prevail and we have to ensure we let children know they have the power to help and can part of the change. They’ve go a voice too.”
Pike, who has a background in children’s theatre entertainment and television, said it’s important “not to underestimate how powerful storytelling is” as fairytales are often the first place children “learn about good versus evil and how good can always triumph”.
Pop’n’Olly’s mission is to “combat LGBTQ+ prejudice before it begins to form”, “eradicate LBGTQ+ shame, empower children” and “spark joy”.
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