High school students from the Prairie Valley School Division came together in Lumsden to build and support the LGBTQ2S+ community with the third annual Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Student Summit.
Paula Dvernichuk is a teacher at Lumsden Secondary School and said more than 100 students attended the summit.
“We have about 120 attendees here at the school and we do different sessions on what GSA is like gay history, what it was like growing up a gay man in a small town,” Dvernichuk said. . “We did arts and crafts and had queer literature while trying to celebrate our LGBTQ2S+ kids.
Cas is one of the student leaders at the event and one of the speakers, he says it took time to feel comfortable talking about his story.
“The main reason I always tell people is so people can kind of understand that when it comes to LGBTQ2S+ mental health specifically, it’s not just numbers, it’s real people” , said Cas.
Cas adds that there is no better feeling than providing a safe space.
“I think part of the mission for me has always been to make sure people have a safe space,” Cas said. “I can’t describe the feeling of being in a room with a group of other people who are exactly like you. ”
Ashlynn Brooks and AJ Angell came from Milestone Sk. to Saturday’s event and are fired up by Cas’s story.
“I can relate to their stories as what I’m going through and I like being non-binary and deciding what pronouns I want,” Angell said. “What sexuality goes with that, I feel more comfortable.”
Providing a safe space for students to be themselves was a goal for Dvernichuk.
“The Saturday morning excitement of the kids just being themselves,” Dvernichuk said. “Asking questions like, can I use my real pronouns, or can I, use my real name, can I wear whatever I want and be whoever I want.”
Dvernichuk adds that smaller communities are improving when it comes to acceptance of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
“I think as more and more communities understand that these kids are here and as more LGBTQ2S+ communities are in small towns, it’s only going to get better for these kids and it’s only going to get better. for the community,” Dvernichuk said. .
Organizers hope the summit will expand to other schools in the division in the future.