Ally Week and Supporting Our LGBTQ+ Students

Throughout this school year, my colleague Jake Zebley and I led the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club at the high school we both work at, and week by week, we had more kids expressing interest in joining.

What we thought would be a once-a-marking-period meet-up turned into an every Wednesday lunch session, and now, we have an incredible amount of students showing up, and not just showing up, but wanting to make a change in their school community.

In late March, Jake noted that the National Day of Silence would take place on April 12th, so he proposed that we create an Ally Week leading up to that day. The energy in the room while we planned Ally Week was electric.

Our Ally Week schedule went as follows:

Now, to provide full disclosure: we did ask our administration prior to planning this. They were 100% supportive. Based on the comments from my Instagram posts, I know that this is not always the case. I know that there are many students, teachers, and people unable to participate in activities like this, and it's disheartening. One teacher said that her school system would probably shut down if an Ally Week were proposed. This is NOT okay. In what world does it make sense to not show some of our most vulnerable students AND teachers/staff that they have a safe space? That they are accepted? Loved? Respected? One thing we know: our kids deserve it. To show them this, here is how we kicked off Ally Week at our school.

Monday: Pick up a Ribbon at Lunch

During lunches, students could come to our table and grab ribbons to support. We had purple ally, rainbow pride, and blue/pink/white transgender ribbons. Jake bought all of the ribbon right from Amazon, and the kids helped assemble them. To this day, we still see the ribbons around school. :)

Tuesday: Take the Pledge

We collected ally pledge cards from students to create this rainbow pledge wall. I think we had more orange than any other color ;) It was a beautiful thing to see this come alive and literally create a wall of support for our students.

Wednesday: Wear a Pronoun Sticker

We offered she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, and blank pronoun stickers for students and staff to use. Imagine how powerful and moving it was to see students walk away with their sticker, PROUD. Imagine the courage it took for some of those students to grab the pronoun sticker with which they identify. 

Thursday: Wear Your Rainbow Colors

Jake found rainbow temporary tattoos on Amazon, and they were a HIT with our kids. He also walked around with his little fanny pack, offering them out to anyone who wanted one haha. On this particular day, April 11th, we also had an ALICE, or active shooter/threat, drill. In the second picture, you'll see our local sheriff pictured with us, sporting a rainbow sticker on his phone. It was a somber morning, especially considering how we all evacuated the building, but it was brightened by the support from our entire community.

Friday: The National Day of Silence

Over 40 students participated in our National Day of Silence. This day is the day that inspired our Ally Week to begin with. Imagine walking into our building Monday through Thursday, full of bright colors and energy, only to be met with a stark difference on Friday: void of color, 41 silent students, and an entirely different mood.

We're planning to have Ally Week earlier next year as means to let our incoming students know that they have a safe space. This work is crucial for our young people. It is the work that saves lives. We cannot even sum up in words the stories that our students have shared with us, and we know this is only the beginning.

You can access the materials to help you get started at your school by clicking here.

Thank you to the many people who supported us during Ally Week and to those who are going to start their own. <3

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

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