A small section of Carihi Secondary recently got a new coat of paint—one with a message.
The school’s “LGBT2” group decided to paint a set of steps outside the school in the colours of the rainbow as welcoming sign of support for all students in the school community.
“We were trying to make something visual… a supportive gesture toward everybody in the school,” says counsellor Barb Preston. “It was our legacy project for this year.”
The LGBT2 group, a club that meets at lunch, is aimed at creating a climate of acceptance among all students and staff at Carihi. When Preston came over from Phoenix, she noticed there was no group, so she helped the students organize a group.
“We’ve just kind of been meeting at lunch since Christmas,” she said. “We’ve got a question box in the library, there’s a few things that we’ve tried to do to raise awareness.”
Some younger students in the club, who had come over from Ecole Phoenix Middle School this year, were surprised that there were no rainbow flags or painting at their new school. At Phoenix, they had painted the bus barriers for a similar project, so they started looking to create something visually attractive and positive as a symbol of diversity.
“When the [former] Grade 9s came up here and saw there was nothing here, they were like, ‘we’ve got to have something here,’” Preston said.
The group spent time after school painting the steps on May 24 and 25. The LGBT2 group has also put up rainbow and trans flags in the school’s multi-purpose room and in the F wing where the group meets.
The students, themselves, did not wish to be interviewed for the story because of the controversy around SOGI 123, the Ministry of Education resource program aimed at creating a supportive environment for students, particularly LGBTQ ones. Opponents of SOGI 123 have been raising questions during recent school board meetings, saying the program has more to do with sexual matters that should be left to families rather it has with anti-bullying initiatives.