Skip to content

Pride flag flying at local school boards

June 1 marks the start of Pride Month and local schools are showing their support to students in the 2SLGBTIQ+ community.

THUNDER BAY - With students learning from outside of a school setting, those who identify as 2SLGBTIQ+ may be feeling more isolated than others, which is why it’s so important to show that they are still supported in the community.

“Right now with a pandemic, we can’t be together,” said Jason Veltri, chair of the Thunder Pride Association. “When you look at 2SLGBTIQ+ youth, they are predominantly more at risk. Right now they don’t have an outlet to go to school and feel safe. Some houses they might not feel safe in right now because they may not feel accepted.”

In order to create that sense of acceptance, local school boards including the Lakehead Public School Board and the Thunder Bay District Catholic School Board are flying the Pride Flag outside board offices and at all local schools as part of Pride Month, which began on Monday.

“I think particularly this year in what we are all living through, when you have children who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex, or even trans, it’s an isolating time,” said Lakehead Public School Board chair Ellen Chambers.

“To even have a flag up and see it on Facebook and on the news I think is an important feeling of hope because not all children live in homes where they may be welcome or may be safe. School has become a place that is safe for them.”

The Lakehead School Board is still taking steps to offer support to students in the community who are not able to gather or hold school events.

Chambers said teachers and support staff that are involved with gay/straight alliances in schools have reached out to students and the Ministry of Education has provided funding to these programs across Ontario.

“It’s not easy, but I know people are reaching out,” she said. “Our principals are aware as well and talking about how to reach out to kids. It’s a difficult time for everybody, but you have to think of the ones that are maybe more vulnerable.”

Having the Pride Flag flying at local schools reminds students that they are not alone Veltri said, which shows that the community as a whole is moving in the right direction.

“Having the flags fly from not just the Lakehead School Board but all Lakehead schools is a testament that we are moving the needle on the discussion and moving inclusion and diversity forward,” he said.

“The visibility of that flag flying from their school as they enter shows that they are accepted. The flag is about acceptance. It says to students that no matter your sexual identity, you are welcomed and part of the school community.”

Monday marked the beginning of Pride Month and Thunder Pride is hosting a series of virtual celebrations this year. All in-person events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A complete list of online events can be found on the Thunder Pride Association website.

Veltri said it is just as important as ever to celebrate Pride Month, as there is still much work to be done in creating acceptance and inclusivity here in the north.

“We are all in this together,” he said. “The reason we do this is there are still people struggling with their identity out there. We have to do better. Look at Emo. Three members of town council including the mayor who don’t see it necessary to recognize June as Pride Month or even recognize pride because of their own hatred and homophobic beliefs. We have to do better by everyone and this is one small step we can do to promote the inclusivity of Thunder Bay.”

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks