Student trustees reflect on the importance of inclusion

Our students are first – each and every one. This is a message that the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) takes seriously and serves as a reminder to continue working for equity and inclusion for all students within our schools. At its core, the Pride flag represents acceptance and inclusion in our communities, making it an important initiative for WRDSB to support. In order to truly support each and every student, we must send a clear message that everyone should feel a sense of belonging in their school, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.

The Pride flag is arguably one of the most important cultural symbols of our world today because it symbolizes and represents a historically non-represented community. George Baker’s spearheading of this initiative in the 1970s made millions of people around the world feel more comfortable, more supported and more inspired simply by having a symbol with which they identified. This simple act fosters safe, inclusive, caring and accepting school sites and communities.

The rainbow was selected as a symbol for the LGBTQ+ community because – as Baker puts it – “the rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.” In an era littered with divisiveness, we should take comfort in the diversity and togetherness of the WRDSB community. Without our differences and without our diversity, the WRDSB community would not be what it is today and wouldn’t be able to cater to such a wide demographic. Our differences truly make us stronger, and that is the importance and the symbolism associated with the Pride flag.

It has taken years of curricular and extra-curricular education to lay the groundwork for and to develop this sense of community. Our accepting community that we witness now and that has moulded so many people in such significant ways, is no mistake. It is the direct product of the work of dedicated and committed staff and students throughout our history, in addition to the vulnerable students who have opened up with their stories and experiences to educate and teach others.

Let’s remember the sacrifices and obstacles that all students – but in particular our LGTBQ+ students – have overcome, and let’s raise the Pride Flag for them. Happy Pride Month, WRDSB.

Oscar Judelson-Kelly and Ben Wahl
WRDSB Student Trustees
2018-19

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