by Lauren Morley, Year 13 Student Kaipara College
In 1999, US president Bill Clinton declared that in honour of the stonewall riots, every June in America would become “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month”. In 2011, US President Barack Obama expanded Pride month to include the entire LGBTQ+ community. Pride month has since been adopted by many countries around the world, including New Zealand.
For several years now, one week in June has been dedicated to being Pride in Schools Week. This year, that week was celebrated nationwide between the 12th and 16th of June, and was organised across the country by our school’s PSSP (Peer Sexuality Support Programme) teams.
Pride in Schools Week, facilitated by the organisation Inside OUT, aims to encourage students and teachers who are part of the rainbow community to embrace who they are and celebrate diversity in order to create a sense of belonging. One of the most important parts of Pride in Schools Week is education; Inside OUT facilitates many activities and celebrations which are not only fun, but also encourage the sharing of resources and information. For example, on Wednesday the 14th, many students across all year levels gathered in the school library during our lunch break to enjoy a Pride themed book club. We discussed books which incorporated queer characters and relationships, gender diversity, as well as books written by queer authors.
On Thursday the 15th, the PSSP team hosted a short film festival. During this, they showed films such as Coming Out, Kustom Kar Kommandos, ifé, and Kiss of the Rabbit God. This festival was put together by PSSP member Kingston Dean. When asked the purpose of this film festival, Kingston said “I put this collection of films together as a form of education on media that has been born from the struggle and oppression of the past 150 years. Having a better understanding of this media lets us both comprehend the current struggle as well as the history and culture of this community.”
To finish the week off, Friday was deemed to be a non uniform day. In exchange for a gold coin donation, students were able to ditch their uniforms for the day and were then encouraged to dress in their brightest colours! To accompany this, during lunch time the PSSP team were selling baked goods such as M&M cookies and cupcakes topped with colourful swirled icing.
The donations for the non uniform day came to approximately $450, all of which will be donated to charity organisation Rainbow Youth. The bake sale also raised around $250, which will go towards the PSSP team’s budget to fund future activities within the school.
This encouragement and enthusiasm to support the rainbow community and share queer media is something which us students, and our community, should be thankful for. If we take a look at a place such as Florida, their controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill aims to prohibit students talking about sexual orientation or gender diversity within the walls of their schools. However, at Kaipara College, and throughout most of New Zealand, these discussions are not only supported, but also encouraged. This, in turn, creates a safer and happier environment for our students which aims to include everyone.