A Regina-area elementary school is proving it’s never too early to promote acceptance and inclusion.
“We’re helping to stand up for people who might not have a voice. We’re walking to show that we support everyone no matter what our differences are,” seventh-grader Carly Repski said.
The parade, which featured students outfitted in t-shirts of all colours of the rainbow, was organized by students from the school’s Acceptance of Diversity Club.
“This is student-led. This idea came together with the students. They decided on the posters, the colours, all of it. It’s really powerful to have the students deciding and making those decisions,” Emerald Ridge Grade 5 and 6 teacher Gina Bradshaw said.
Claire Carter is an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Regina. She also sits on the University Pride Centre board and is part of a Queen City Pride Week panel discussing how society views different genders and bodies.
She says people are exposed to gender norms at a very young age.
“We’re talking about kids in daycares saying ‘boys should do this, girls should do that’,” she said. “It has a real impact.”
She says she’s seen her own children’s friends be impacted by those norms and thinks that’s a problem that more teachers and parents should be talking about with their kids.
“They’re really young and impressionable. They’ve stopped doing certain behaviours and certain processes because they’re scared of being made fun of. These are conversations kids are able to have and should be having.”
Despite being in just the fifth grade, Emerald Ridge student Alyssa is already having those conversations.
“If you don’t like your race, your culture or your abilities, that can cause mental, we want to make sure that everyone feels safe.”