By Willa Crowley
In celebration of pride month, Fort St. James Secondary School is participating in virtual pride events being organized by School District 91.
The school district is participating in a month-long virtual program called “CampOUT”, hosted by the University of British Columbia. Normally held on Gambier Island, this program offers a safe space and resources for LGBTQ+ youth, ages 13 to 21. Ranging from poetry to anti-oppression, students can participate in virtual events of their choice. Schools are required to ensure students can attend their chosen activities.
FSJSS also participated in Northern BC’s SOGI Summit. SOGI – or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – is a government organization that attempts to erase discrimination in our schools by educating students and staff on the LGBTQ+ community. SOGI Summit is an event where participants come together to share knowledge and ideas. Both school staff and students can participate.
At FSJSS the SOGI representatives are Jhenipher Bridgeman and Marnie Dinwoodie. Advocates for our LGBTQ+ students, they participate in monthly SOGI training sessions. Bridgeman says she wishes they had an LGBTQ+ staff member, but as they do not, she and Dinwoodie shall continue to do their best as cisgender heterosexual women. That being said, SOGI is an inclusive organization that welcomes all allies, including those who identify as cisgender and heterosexual.
With their help, FSJSS will soon be adding LGBTQ+ inclusive books to the student library. In addition to providing support within the school, Bridgeman and Dinwoodie also connect students with outside resources. This includes our local medical clinic, counselling services, and the Blue Pine Clinic in Prince George, a primary resource for students who are transitioning.
Bridgeman believes the stigma may never be gone, but that with equity, diversity and inclusion education, we can lessen the discrimination LGBTQ+ members of our community face.
Meanwhile, SD91 also held this year’s first virtual pride event on May 17. Named “Share the Love”, this event gave LGBTQ+ students a chance to connect with one another and share their bi/homo/transphobic experiences. The day also included Kahoot challenges and goodie bags that contained “Share the Love” masks.