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December 7, 2021



GSA pioneer will be missed

Lindsay Thurber High School in Red Deer has a strong tradition of opposing prejudice and being a place for everyone. 

Many years ago we had a student group called STOP. It stood for Students and Teachers Opposing Prejudice. This group was led by Darren Lund, as he was an English teacher at Lindsay Thurber. These students were positive rebels who decided to bring attention to the prejudice that existed in central Alberta at the time. They protested, invited guest speakers and threw punk rock gigs in Red Deer to raise money for their cause. 

Many of these students went on to careers involving human rights, justice and service to others. In the late 1990s, the group evolved into Alberta’s very first gay–straight alliance (GSA), thus beginning the legacy that we can trace back to Darren Lund’s vision and willingness to be the voice of justice to represent marginalized people. The GSA participated in community events and tried to spread awareness and kindness through education. 

More recently, our students changed the group name to a queer–straight alliance (QSA) in an effort to be more welcoming to trans and non-binary people. The QSA has hosted guests, participated in community engagement at the city level, partnered with community LGBTQ+ groups, and been a super awesome place for students to feel safe and be their authentic selves. We have always had queer and straight people as part of this student group, so that allyship continues.

After teaching at Thurber for 16 years, Darren went on to become a professor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, where he continued to be an award-winning champion of human rights.

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge Darren’s death on Nov. 10. I am one of many colleagues who continue to mourn his loss, but it is good to know that his legacy and work for human rights and justice continue on with our students.

Trina Penner
Grade 9 LAT
Lindsay Thurber High School, Red Deer


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