LIFRC is a proud partner of the Lopez Island School District GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). The LISD GSA is a student-run organization that unites LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build solidarity and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities. These talented youth leaders are also members of the Voices & Visions community leadership group. On June 3rd, the GSA organized the annual Pride Parade, a fun and fabulous procession through Lopez Village.
GSA students led and organized the parade, which has become a yearly tradition.
A warm and spirited crowd brightened the chilly “Junuary” day.
Community members of all ages gathered to demonstrate their love and support.
We caught up with Emma Hatchel, the LISD GSA’s student leader, and Trisha Elliot-Napier, one of its staff co-advisors, and asked them to tell us more about what the GSA does.
Emma: I would describe the GSA as a safe, welcoming environment for students of all age, gender and sexual orientation. Everyone is welcome to join and be their true selves.
Our biggest project this year was hosting our Mad Hatter Tea Party. We worked so hard to put it on and everyone had so much fun doing it! We had a drag show, an auction, a fun hat contest and even a raffle prize. It was such a successful, amazing event. Definitely one for GSA history!
One thing Emma did recently was to purchase Pride flags of various types and bring them to each teacher's classroom with the request they be displayed so students will know they are supported all around the school. We also recently enjoyed a GSA lock-in, which celebrated our little community and gave the students a safe place to be themselves. Just after everyone arrived, a rainbow appeared over the school, stretching from one end of the field to the other. We took it as a sign of Pride!
One more thing I'd like to mention is the success of our Pride march the last couple of years and our amazing turnout. We had so many people from our community come wave their flags and show their pride! It was incredible to watch! Even with the rain pouring this year, that didn't stop our amazing community from showing up and putting a little bit of color into the rainy day.
We asked what else we can do to support queer youth on Lopez.
Martha, our Secondary Principal, and Mary, our Elementary Principal, both have made huge efforts to make our school a more supportive, inclusive, educated place. As a staff member, I am so proud of LISD for the strides they have taken this year to make our school safer and more welcoming for all people. Martha and Mary have made it a focus of our trainings this year and are passionate about bringing about this change. Deirdre in the school library has also carefully curated a wonderful selection of inclusive books. One thing I'd like to work on next year is establishing a gender neutral bathroom.
In my opinion being a good ally means accepting, understanding and always being open to educating yourself on different things in the LGBTQIA+ community. A great way to show your support is by asking someone what their pronouns are when introducing yourself (example: “Hello, my name is Emma. My pronouns are She/They. What are yours?”) and perhaps wearing a button with your pronouns when at work or a social event.
We are grateful to the members of the LISD GSA for taking the time to share with us, and inspired by their hardworking leadership in our community. Happy Pride Month!