Many schools around Durham Region marked May 17 — the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — with the raising of a Pride flag.
Staff and students at John M. James Public School gathered in solidarity with the school’s Pride club.
For student Christie Wright, it’s been an uphill battle ever since she revealed her sexual orientation to others.
“I do encounter a lot of questions. There are a lot of jokes that are made,” she said.
Wright said things have gotten better since she joined the Pride club at school, but she hopes to help prevent bullying and discrimination towards the LGBTQ2 community.
While the Pride flag was raised at most schools in the region, the Durham District School Board Education Centre held a gay-straight alliance (GSA) conference to promote inclusion and equity.
Students participated in GSA workshops and heard from keynote speakers.
Grade 8 student Lucas Guezebroek, who was at the event, started a GSA at his school after hearing derogatory language from his fellow classmates.
“A lot of people say, ‘That’s so gay’ a lot, and that’s just part of their vocabulary now. They’re really offensive terms so I just want them to know that it’s not right to say all that kind of stuff,” Guezebroek said.
Barry Bedford, education officer for equity and inclusive education with the school board, also hopes to address this derogatory language among students.
“It’s the microaggressions of who you are being used as a synonym for stupid all over the internet, on web pages and chat rooms, and not just within the hallways of education… it’s just the norm,” Bedford said.
It’s a norm Geuzebroek said he hopes will one day change.