Enfield Grammar student wins acclaim for speech about coming out

Year ten pupil Ethan spoke about being gay and “valuing myself” at a public speaking competition

Ethan Bousoula gives his speech in the Speak Out Challenge
Ethan Bousoula gives his speech at the Speak Out Challenge regional final

An Enfield Grammar School student has won a borough-wide public speaking competition after opening up about being gay and the challenge of coming out.

Ethan Bousoula was crowned regional final champion in the Jack Petchey Foundation’s ‘Speak Out Challenge’, the largest public speaking event of its kind in the world. Now in its sixteenth year, over 25,000 year ten students annually compete for over £12,000 worth of prizes.

At the Enfield regional final of the competition held last week, Ethan delivered a speech titled ‘It doesn’t get better’. They said: “Waiting for it to get better didn’t change anything. I couldn’t help ‘it’. But what I could help, was myself, and the way I chose to value myself.”

Among the audience watching the speeches was Enfield mayor Doris Jiagge. She said afterwards: “The speakers did very well! They were brilliant, with very, very good ideas. You need to know how to speak, because you encounter it in everything you do. My advice to anyone speaking is just stay focused on what you’ve got to say, don’t overthink it. As we saw from our speakers tonight, if you have a passion for something, just stick to that and it will flow.”

Ethan’s prize is a £100 gift certificate and the chance to go through to the grand final of the competition to be held later this year in the West End.

The runner-up was Jessanya Johnson from Kingsmead School, and third place went to Luke Tyrimos of Highlands School. The judging panel at the event included a range of local community leaders.

This year more than 25,000 year ten students (aged 14 or 15) from more than 500 state schools in London and Essex will take part in the Speak Out Challenge. Each one receives an all-day public speaking workshop from the UK’s leading public speaking and communication’s charity, Speakers Trust. The programme is funded and supported by the Jack Petchey Foundation. A speech contest is held at the end of the one-day course and each school selects a speaker to represent them at the regional final.

Having won, Ethan qualifies for the semi final and therefore a chance to represent Enfield at the grand final later in the year – where the winner will receive £5,000 (a £2,000 bursary for themself and £3,000 for their school).

Watch Ethan’s winning speech here:

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