By Willa Crowley
To celebrate Pride Month, Fort St. James High School participates in virtual pride events hosted by School District 91.
The school district participates in a month-long virtual program called âCampOUTâ, hosted by the University of British Columbia. Normally held on Gambier Island, this program provides a safe space and resources for LGBTQ + youth, ages 13 to 21. Ranging from poetry to anti-oppression, students can participate in virtual events of their choice. Schools are responsible for ensuring that students can attend the activities they have chosen.
The FSJSS also participated in the SOGI Summit of Northern British Columbia. SOGI – or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – is a government organization that attempts to eliminate discrimination in our schools by educating students and staff about the LGBTQ + community. The SOGI Summit is an event where participants come together to share their knowledge and ideas. School staff and students can participate.
At FSJSS, SOGI representatives are Jhenipher Bridgeman and Marnie Dinwoodie. Defenders of our LGBTQ + students, they participate in monthly SOGI training sessions. Bridgeman says she wishes she had an LGBTQ + staff member, but since they don’t, she and Dinwoodie will continue to do their best as cisgender, straight women. That being said, SOGI is an inclusive organization that welcomes all allies, including those who identify as cisgender and heterosexual.
With their help, the FSJSS will soon add LGBTQ + inclusive books to the student library. In addition to providing support within the school, Bridgeman and Dinwoodie also connect students with outside resources. This includes our local medical clinic, counseling services, and the Blue Pine Clinic in Prince George, a primary resource for transitioning students.
Bridgeman believes the stigma may never have gone away, but that with education for equity, diversity and inclusion, we can reduce the discrimination that LGBTQ + members of our community face. .
Meanwhile, SD91 also hosted this year’s first virtual pride event on May 17th. Named ‘Share the Love’, this event gave LGBTQ + students a chance to connect with each other and share their bi / gay / transphobic experiences. The day also included Kahoot challenges and goody bags containing âShare the Loveâ masks.