Written by: Naoreen Kabir – Grade 11
November 23rd to 27th was Ally Week here at Pearson, in which students signed a banner to demonstrate their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Running Ally Week behind the scenes was a group of passionate students known as the GSA, or Gay Straight Alliance.
Among these students are twelfth graders Blair, Navi, and Erin, who shared their thoughts on being an ally.
What does being an ally mean to you?
Blair: “Being an ally to me, means multiple things. The first and foremost is being aware. Being aware that there are students in every school and every grade and every class that are on the spectrum, and there are things that will offend them. And that we’re not horribly different. We just like a certain type of person, or our gender expression is different. We’re not suddenly horrible people for that. We can’t control it, and part of that is knowing and accepting us for that. Being an ally is just being aware and accepting.”
Navi: “No matter who we are, we’re still the same people. You can cut us and we all bleed. The colour of our blood is red. We’re not a different species. People will look at someone who’s bisexual, gay, or transgender, in a different kind of way, like they’re some kind of new species, and that’s what gets me. So to me, just trying to make that change is like being an ally.”
Erin: “It means understanding what people go through daily and understanding that even if they can’t experience it themselves, they can stick up for others who do. If you’re an ally, you stand up for but not over people who are in the LGBTQ community. I think anyone can be an ally if they just keep an open mind.”
What are some things other students may do that harms making Pearson a safe space?
Blair: “Definitely the people who use derogatory terms like fag or gay. People who threaten to beat up LGBTQ students. My friends have had problems in the past of being harassed and bullied by students, so I think that’s the biggest issue students face in schools.”
Erin: “I’ve seen a lot of people stand up for other people, like against kids yelling out slurs. I’ve seen a lot of people say, ‘Don’t use that, that’s a derogatory term!’ and I myself have [stood up for others] as well. There’s always a balance of people who are trying not to be allies and those who are.”
How have others been an ally to you?
Blair: “My old school was not accepting at all, and of course, there was no hiding that I was out. It was such a small community that they knew, since all of them knew me since I was five years old. There were a couple of people who would purposely use the wrong gender pronouns to harass me, and I had multiple friends who would go, ‘Hey, you can’t do that, that’s really rude.’”
What do you want students of Pearson to take away from this Ally week?
Erin: “I want them to take away that even if some people out there are terrible and rude, that Pearson can still be a safe space, and if you put your trust into Pearson, we can change.”