With pride month currently underway and parades and events being planned, it's easy to forget the small contributions from individuals and groups in creating safe and accepting places.
One such group and individual is the Strathmore High School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and its organizer Krista Huntley.
Huntley is a teacher at SHS and established the GSA 8 years ago.
She explains how the GSA operates as a drop-in club and what their plans are for June and the future.
“We operate like any other club in the school. When I get student feedback, they want to do things that other clubs do, so we do theme days like Mexican food-themed day or a junk food-themed day. It's Just a chance for them to build community. Specifically for pride, we don't have anything big planned, just because it falls during their exams and the end of this semester for them. But we have been working with the Wheatland Youth Network (WYN) and they're planning some events in the community.”
The WYN collaborates with The Canadian Mental Health Association Youth Hubs Project which aims to help young people in areas like mental health, life skills and academic success.
The impact the GSA has had on its members and the school's community can't be underestimated explains Huntley,
“On some of the kids attending it's had an extremely positive impact. It allows them to feel included and part of the Strathmore High School community. It is a marginalized group of kids and sometimes they have trouble making friends. Being a teenager is hard and this gives them a place where they feel comfortable being themselves."
For Huntley, the group is also about connection as a whole, "We also work on being part of the larger school community. So for example, some of our fundraisers have contributed to buying furniture for what they call the pit, where kids hang out. So they have become a larger part of the school community as well.”
Huntley is more than correct about the struggles of being a teenager. Especially for ones in marginalized groups in small communities. Pride month is often a big larger-than-life celebration but sometimes it's important to shine a spotlight on the small communities within small communities that provide safety and acceptance to individuals in need of community and understanding like the GSA at Strathmore High School.
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