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‘It’s groundbreaking’: Students celebrate 1st permanent Pride crosswalk at Calgary school

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WATCH: Jack James High School is now the home of the first inclusive Pride crosswalk at a Calgary Board of Education school. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Aug 25, 2021

Jack James High School is now the home of the first inclusive Pride crosswalk at a Calgary Board of Education school.

The crosswalk includes the Pride flag as well as colours representing transgender and BIPOC communities.

The painted crosswalk is intended to be a symbol of support for members of the LGBTQ2 community.

“We have a really large population of students who express themselves and live in many different ways, so this is a great way to welcome our students and show respect,” said Jack James High School principal Jennifer Gorkoff.

Read more: Calgary Pride Week will feature mix of virtual and in-person events

“It’s groundbreaking, and it’s historic,” said Elliot Rae Cormier, manager of development and membership with Calgary Pride. Cormier hopes to see more of this not only in Calgary schools but in rural areas too.

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“Because I know if I had seen something like this when I was younger, I might’ve come to terms with my own gender and sexual identities sooner, and I probably would’ve come out a lot sooner too,” Cormier said.

“I think it’s beautiful. This is a really great step forward for the CBE and for high schools, in general, in Calgary in actively creating and upholding a culture of inclusion. It’s a conversation piece not only for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community but it also creates an opportunity for dialogue with folks who might not understand what these colours mean or why they are important.”

Read more: Calgary LGBTQ students protest UCP Education Act

Gorkoff said there has been a shift in attitudes over the past decade in schools when it comes to the LGBTQ2 community.

“I think our students feel more supported and comfortable being who they are and with expressing themselves, and with that discussion and conversation, there is absolutely more acceptance,” Gorkoff said.

But students like Maxx Michell think more change needs to happen in homes in terms of kids coming out.

“I would like to see more families and parents be accepting to their queer and trans or non-binary children because if you’re going to be a parent, you should be able to accept your child for who they are,” Michell said.

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“Try to understand your kid from where they’re coming from and listen to what they have to say and not overreact to the things they tell you.”

It’s hoped the crosswalk will provide not only a welcoming message but also open the door to discussion and learning.

Read more: Calgary LGBTQ community urges schools to do more to support students

The inspiration for the project comes from students and staff at Jack James High School with support from the school council, the Forest Lawn Community Association and the CBE’s sexual orientation gender identity team.

The installation occurred in the same week the Calgary Pride Festival begins on Aug. 27.

A spokesperson for the Calgary Catholic School District said its schools do not have any Pride crosswalks.

“We acknowledge and respect that many people in society choose to celebrate Pride Month and other Pride activities. At CCSD, we believe that all children are loved by God, and our focus continues to be on providing outstanding Catholic education with respect, compassion and sensitivity,” read a statement from CCSD.

Click to play video: 'Calgary Pride Festival unveils new events' Calgary Pride Festival unveils new events
Calgary Pride Festival unveils new events – Aug 25, 2021

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