Marjorie Smith, FTL website developer and tireless human rights campaigner died on 9th February 2011. She is survived by her husband Jon, two sons Stephen and Richard, mother Marianne and brother, Michael.
Although I first met Marjorie Smith in August 2008, I had previously heard about her from Hatta Hodson (Facilitator of Families Together London). Marjorie was a vital and valued member of FTL and had worked tirelessly to get the website to its current stage - where anyone can browse to access information on issues affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth and their families.
On the day we met, we had chatted for hours about our sons, families and how our lives and more importantly that of our sons had been affected and would continue to be affected by homophobia in society and globally. Her compassion and understanding of complex issues resonated with me and we immediately formed a bond which continued until the end. I was aware that a few years previously she had been treated for breast cancer, but when the cancer returned early in 2009, she stoically continued all of her numerous activities including her work as an Educational Psychologist and involvement in FTL. She kept her condition private, continuing to work tirelessly and preferring normality above all.
Marjorie believed that education was an essential tool in tackling homophobia and other discrimination including race, gender and disability. She was a passionate campaigner for Human Rights until the end, attending and speaking at conferences, actively communicating with television and radio broadcasters, church leaders, Schools Out members, Police, educators and members of parliament. Marjorie challenged discrimination wherever it exists. She strongly advocated and promoted change where diversity would be valued and not vilified. She contributed a key chapter for a recent book offering inclusion guidance to school teachers (see Teaching and Learning in Diverse and Inclusive Classrooms: Key issues for new teachers, edited by Gill Richards and Felicity Armstrong, published by Routledge 2011) identifying the particular difficulties that can be experienced by our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.
It is not only for her work with Human Rights Organisations, Education Departments and FTL, but also for her personal qualities that Marjorie will be remembered. She combined warmth, generosity, joyousness and enthusiasm for life with great directness and strength of character. She was a dear friend who touched my life and that of many others and will be sadly missed.
Contributed by Joanne Manson - a member of FTL, the London based subsidiary of Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG)