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Success Stories: Annual Pride Week fosters safety and acceptance

June 12, 2018 Patricia Marie Budd, Father Patrick Mercredi, Community High School

Every spring, the gay–straight alliance (GSA) at Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School in Fort McMurray runs a Pride Week.

This tradition began in April 2016. Every year since then the GSA (which we call the Safe Zone) has been presenting fun-filled activities to help educate the staff and student body about LGBTQ students and encourage acceptance and understanding at our school.

During Pride Week, classes start each day by viewing a PowerPoint presentation dealing with an issue regarding LGBTQ students. The following themes are among the presentations that have been featured: “How to Be an Ally,” “What Not to Say,” “Why Pronouns Are Essential,” and “Gender-Neutral Bathrooms.” These short presentations only take five minutes out of the first block, but they provide teachers and students with valuable information about LGBTQ
issues in school as well as opening the door for
mature discussion on these matters.


At lunch, the Safe Zone students present a variety of activities, such as bake sales, face painting, limbo and hula-hoop contests and (every year) a trivia contest using the information learned in the week’s slide shows. The staff comes out to support the students by volunteering to do extra supervision during lunch while the students present their activities to the student body. Each year, as a result of Pride Week and its repetition every spring, inclusion and acceptance is becoming stronger. Slowly our students are starting to feel safer and more accepted at our school. ❚

Patricia Marie Budd is a teacher and GSA supervisor at Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School in Fort McMurray.

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