On Monday, June 3rd, 2019, Dana Middle School celebrated Pride for the first time in the school’s history. Students and faculty members marched throughout the campus in a rainbow formation to spread awareness and visibility for LGBTQ+ students and the allies who support the cause.
This event was made possible by the GSA club at Dana Middle School. GSA (an acronym for Gay-Straight Alliance) is a school club that supports people in the LGBTQ+ community as well as allies. The club sponsors of Dana’s GSA are Ms. Kremenetsky and Ms. McNeny, who created it last year based on student interest. According to Ms. K, “My definition of a GSA is a school organization made up of students and staff who believe in supporting safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people on campus. You do not have to identify as LGBTQ+ in order to be in a GSA. You just have to care deeply about the issue.”
The event took place in the lunch area, with the march starting in the north field, and ending in the south field. Students showed their own colors using the bright colors of the rainbow to create an image of the gay flag. During the event, music was playing and it was pulled heavily from artists who identify as LGBTQ+ and who have influenced LGBTQ+ positively. A GSA member says, “I feel like we just want to celebrate the equality we have and that we are still fighting for equal rights,” for why they wanted to make this event possible.
Pride parades have been marched since 1970, when it was the one year anniversary of a raid at the Stonewall Inn, New York City, which had predominantly LGBTQ+ people at the inn. After there were many riots, but one stood out. A parade one year after the raid, and going on as an annual reminder. Now, it’s become less of a riot and more of a celebration. Since the first, it has moved from New York to across the country in West Hollywood, California.
The reason why this pride parade is important is because LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to be outcasted than their straight counterparts. According to the Stop Bullying website, 33% of the gay students were bullied at school and 27% of the gay students were cyberbullied. This is why it’s really important to be an ally. An ally is someone who supports the LGBTQ+ community but identifies as cisgender.
To help combat this bullying, Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), have been implemented nationwide. GSAs are school organizations of people who are LGBTQ+ or are allies that support fairness and equity for those who identify as LGBTQ+. GSAs were first introduced in 1988, by teacher Kevin Jennings and student Meredith Sterling in Massachusetts, and have spread throughout the U.S. and then the world. Currently, there are over 6,500 GSA’s in the United States and the numbers continue to climb.
The event took place in the lunch area, with the march starting in the north field, and ending in the south field. Students showed their own colors using the bright colors of the rainbow to create an image of the gay flag. Many brought posters and painted their faces with rainbow colors. During the event, music was playing and it was pulled heavily from artists who identify as LGBTQ+ and who have influenced the LGBTQ+ community positively. When asked why they advocated for this event, a GSA member says, “I feel like we just want to celebrate the equality we have and that we are still fighting for equal rights.”
Overall, Dana’s Pride has been a first for the middle school and GSA looks forward to continuing on the tradition.