LGBTQ+ Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June and is a time to honor the Stonewall riots that occurred in Manhattan in 1969. In the late 60's there was a very low tolerance for Gay society, and the understanding of what we have come to recognize as the LGBTQ+ community was very low and by most non-existant. The Stonewall riots were a major turning point for the Gay Liberation movement, and today millions of Americans celebrate pride month with picnics, parades, parties, memorials. The purpose of the commemoration is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on local, national, and international levels. Although we’ve come a long way from the Stonewall riots, the topic of LGBTQ+ issues still remains controversial, including in schools. Here in an article from LGBT Nation, you can read about how some parents have reacted to the addition of a pride section to their teenager's high school yearbook.
The pages in the book seem innocent enough and seek to highlight student's stories about "coming out" to their classmates. As you can read in the article some parents at this Houston school were very upset about the Pride section addition, making disparaging comments online about the bold move by the yearbook editor. Relative to the current political climate and ongoing Pride festivities, many parents are beginning to question whether the celebration and recognition of LGBTQ+ individuals are appropriate for their children. However, is the question really about inclusion?
By the time an individual reaches high school they are typically beginning to make choices that affect theirs and others understanding of personal identity and expression. It is often during this formation that individuals recognize, find the bravery, comradery, or support they need to share who they really are. Like many other LGBTQ+ teenagers and teens in general across the nation attending high school, most simply want to feel a sense of belonging. By highlighting and including students of all types it forces difficult questions, which after healthy discussion and debate can often lead to new understanding of others who are socially and culturally different.
Just as our society has grown past "no tolerance" and the Stonewall Riots, it has the capabilities to grow past "no inclusion." As with everything, growth and change will take time and action. The fact a debate over the pride addition in a high school yearbook exists, is a great sign that the flow of the ever-changing river that is time, is working towards an increased understanding and discussion that will move all of us in a direction towards acceptance.
In short, my answer to the question posed by this title is no - it is most certainly NOT inappropriate for Pride to be celebrated in High School, whether it is by celebration, parade, or recognition on paper. Inclusion breeds understanding, which creates acceptance, and leads to honesty. In a world where honesty is safe and accepted the brave people who "came out" before will continue being a cornerstone of emotional pride, allowing others to share who they truly are, no matter their position in the LGBTQ+ community.
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392.