Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride in Schools

The gay/straight alliance club speaks on pride month

Kendall Kaberle, Editor

  Ever since 1999, June has been the month that is designated to celebrate ‘pride’, otherwise known as the celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and the plus sign stands for any other sexuality that one may consider themselves. The entire month of June commemorates the Stonewall Riots that caused an uprising in Greenwich village in New York City.
  The Stonewall Inn, a club where many people of the LGBTQ+ community used to gather in the late 1960’s, was raided by police enforcements, causing violent uprisings in the surrounding neighborhood by local bar owners and residents. Many were escorted out of the bars on this night (June 28, 1969), which led to six days of protests following the uprisings.
  Although the Stonewall uprising is the specific historical event that caused June to be considered ‘pride month’, previous attempts for social justice towards LGBTQ+ rights were made. The earliest attempt was made by Henry Gerber in 1924 as he founded the Society for Human Rights. This attempt was to promote the idea that all people should be able to live in ‘the pursuit of happiness’, as one of the founding documents of the United States, The Declaration of Independence, states.
  Following the events of the Stonewall riots, former U.S. president Bill Clinton proclaimed June to be “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,” which former U.S. president Barack Obama then changed to “LGBT Pride Month.” The final change to the name of ‘pride month’ was made by the current president of the U.S., Joe Biden. Now, June stands as “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month.”
  Since 1969, the LGBTQ+ community has become more widely accepted as many people have found a sense of belonging. At WSH, the ‘GSA’ (gay/straight alliance), a student led club that meets at least once a week. English teacher Heidi Gregory, who is one of the advisors of the club, would like everyone to know that everyone is welcome there.
  “My hope is that we can provide a safe space for all students where they feel free to be themselves. My greatest hope is that this club can save lives [as] the suicide rate for LGBTQ+ people is extremely high, due to societal pressures. I’ve seen this happen with my own adult friends, my goal is to let all students know that they are safe,” Gregory said.
  Since the Gay Straight Alliance was formed in earlier years at WSH, more and more people have become openly accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. However, there still seems to be varying opinions and perspectives surrounding outside of the school community.
  With students, it seems that there is more acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. Unfortunately, in U.S. politics, there seems to be a trend against the LGBTQ+ community with book banning, Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ initiative, and anti-trans legislation throughout multiple states,” Gregory said.
  In order to make the LGBTQ+ community feel more accepted in all areas, there are several ways people can choose to become involved, whether it is attending the club’s meetings or wearing ‘pride’ colors.
  “The Gay Straight Alliance is open to all students. Anybody is welcome to join the club and come to meetings. [At meetings], we have circle discussions, play games, hang out, plan fun events, and plan ways to spread awareness and support for LGBTQ+ students. [Other] people can spread awareness and show support in so many ways. They can wear or decorate with pride colors, stickers or flags to show LGBTQ+ people support. People can also stand up for LGBTQ+ students when they hear inappropriate bullying and language being used. In addition, students can include LGBTQ+ students within classes,” Gregory said.
  Aside from students deciding to go to meetings and wear their support, there are other ways that the community at WSH has become more involved over the years.
  “Over the years, the GSA has grown to include more community outreach and information. For instance, we provided mental health resources during the mental health summit here at school. Rainbow spirit days have been shown more support by more students over the years as well,” Gregory said.
  As an advisor to the GSA club, it is a very rewarding experience that Gregory gets to be a part of each year.
  “My favorite part [of being a club advisor] is seeing students smile. One great memory is when a mother came to me crying and thanking me for supporting her transgender student. In the end, everyone needs support and love. There is no need for anyone to oppress anyone else. Love is love. Love wins,” Gregory said.