Sir Ian McKellen, famed for his roles as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, has extended his support to York Pride 2017 in a video to the charity in which he calls Pride “terribly important, not just to be yourself and enjoy yourself [on the day], but to do it in the company of others who are trying to do the same thing.”

Sir McKellen also praises the participation of all of York’s state secondary schools in the Pride parade, calling it “enterprising.” It is not the first time that Sir McKellen has engaged with York’s schools. In 2014, through his work with LGBT charity Stonewall, McKellen visited Fulford School and York High to discuss the importance of celebrating individuality and how students should stand up against prejudice.

York will make history on Saturday 10 June as every single one of its state secondary schools takes part in York Pride’s Parade from the Minster to the Knavesmire. This is thought to be the first time anywhere in the world that an LGBT Pride event has achieved the full inclusion of its local schools and it is appropriate that it should happen in the historic city of York.

Students and teachers from York High, Millthorpe, Fulford, Joseph Rowntree, Manor Church of England, Vale of York, Huntington, Archbishop Holgate’s, All Saints RC and Tadcaster Grammar Schools will take part in the parade, joined by Bootham and other schools under a ‘York area schools supporting York Pride’ banner. In total, 13 secondary schools from within and around York will take part in an unprecedented partnership between an LGBT Pride and its local schools.

Greg Stephenson, Chair of York Pride said: “It is absolutely incredible that all of York’s secondary schools are taking part in Pride this year. York Pride has developed excellent relationships with local schools, which have such a pivotal role in supporting LGBT rights and shaping the attitudes of young people growing up in York. To have them all there in our Pride Parade will be truly heart-warming and an incredible achievement.”

Julian Rudd, Vice-Chair of York Pride and lead contact with the schools, is thrilled at this development. “This is so very meaningful for people like me, who grew up with Government legislation that prevented teachers from reassuring LGBT kids or helping direct them to sources of advice. Secondary school is a key stage in our development and LGBT kids can feel very isolated. I am so proud to say that York Pride and our schools have managed to achieve this landmark alliance to tackle prejudice. We work hard to make sure that York Pride provides benefits all year long and this work will ensure that”.

Across the city, secondary schools have adopted policies which aim to tackle LGBT-phobia and support the celebration of diversity and inclusion. Themed lessons and events will take place at the schools during the lead in to York Pride.

Mary Weastell, Chief Executive of City of York Council, said ‘It speaks volumes about this city and its people that we will break new ground and make such a clear link between our schools and our Pride. Teaching young people about equality and diversity will strengthen our communities and improve life for LGBT people growing up in York. I am delighted to see this achieved here’.

David Ellis, Headteacher at York High, commented ‘It is wonderful that so many York schools are now involved in York Pride. York High School is very proud to have taken a lead on this vital issue, which affects the well being of so many young people. The positive response of our students has shown that when schools are brave enough to fight prejudice in whatever form their students are fully responsive.’

Ryan Wilson, Head of English at Joseph Rowntree School, said: “Joseph Rowntree School is incredibly proud to be part of this year’s York Pride celebrations. We are a school committed to promoting and embracing diversity and individuality, and always teach our students the importance of acceptance and tolerance. Staff and students will be marching with pride in the Parade on Saturday 10th June.”

Sarah Richards, teacher at Manor Academy, said that the school “is delighted to be attending its first ever Pride march, which is made even more special given the unprecedented significance of having all secondary schools there on the day.”

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive at Stonewall, added ‘This is great news! What a wonderful gesture to have every single secondary school in the area joining the Pride Parade’.

Last year, York Pride had its most successful year to date. It was the highest attended York Pride ever, with an estimated 8000 people attending the Parade and Main Event throughout the day, and the charity looks forward to seeing Pride grow and expand even more in 2017. With York recently being named as the UK’s first Human Rights City, York Pride hopes to see various organisations support its Hold Hands with Pride theme for 2017 and support the charity in celebrating the diversity and inclusivity it champions. As part of the ‘Raise Your Rainbow’ initiative, York Pride hopes that businesses, charities, and other establishments will fly a rainbow flag and visibly show their support in the week leading up to Pride on Saturday 10th June.

This year, York Pride will take place on Saturday 10th June. The Parade will begin at 11:45am from The Minster and culminate at The Knavesmire for an afternoon of live music, food, drink, and activities. This year, S-Club Party will headline the main stage and there will be a full fairground for all ages to attend.