SSS students guess how many rainbow coloured skittles are in the jar as they take part in the first ever Pride Day at the school. Marisca Bakker photo

Smithers Secondary celebrates pride

School looking into building a gender neutral bathroom by next year.

Smithers Secondary School held a pride day last week to celebrate the LGBTQ community. Students, staff, local councillors and other community members showed up to the carnival-like event last Tuesday afternoon.

Art teacher Perry Rath helped to organize it and said the purpose was to celebrate diversity.

“We had a public event last year as a vigil to the Orlando shooting, of course that was more of a somber affair,” Rath said. “But this is the first celebratory pride event that is happening at the school.”

Rath said it was important to him that everyone at the school feels included and respected, adding that high school is hard enough trying to navigate all the social avenues.

“We are more and more normalizing what it is to be queer, especially in a small rural town,” he said.

“It is amazing how much support has grown in the past decade amongst peers and staff and the community; the rainbow crosswalk appeared last year. We just hope people take away that there is solid foundation of celebration of people who identify as LGBTQ and all of the allies to show support.

Allyship is the most important thing in such a movement, it shows that there are people who aren’t in the (LGBTQ) community that celebrate it, as oppose to just tolerate it.”

SSS Principal Jakson Grice announced at the event that the school is making progress on creating a gender neutral bathroom. School District 54 is currently forming a committee to look at what is required and Grice thinks SSS will be the first school in the district to get one. Some cost and renovations will be required.

He isn’t worried about getting any negative push back from the community.

“It is 2017,” he said. “Our world is moving towards being inclusive. We moved past that stage and my goal at the school is that we welcome everyone and make everyone feel included. Looking forward to getting a gender neutral bathroom only furthers that goal.”

Grice is hoping it will be built and ready to use by early next year.

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