Both École Isabella Dicken Elementary School and Fernie Secondary School (FSS) celebrated inclusivity, last week. The sidewalk at the elementary school and the steps in Traynor Hall at the secondary school were transformed into rainbows.
“We are celebrating inclusion at our school and the rainbow is an international symbol for that,” said EIDES Vice Principal Janet Kuijt.
The City of Fernie, School District 5 and Fernie Pride Society collaborated as a part of this celebration of inclusion.
“Our students, and as well the high school students, helped us paint a rainbow crosswalk to help welcome people to our school,” said Kuijt.
In November 2017, the B.C. Government introduced the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) initiative in schools, which is, “… an inclusive term that represents all individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity”.
This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, heterosexual and cisgender.
FSS’s repainting of their steps was a part of this initiative, spearheaded by the student council. Last year, FSS took part in painting a rainbow crosswalk, but found that the paint wore off very quickly. This is why they chose to paint the stairs in Traynor Hall.
High school student around the Elk Valley recently participated in the unveiling of School District 5’s rainbow crosswalk.
“For me, I feel like it helps bridge the gap for them and it makes their world feel a little bigger,” said FSS SOGI representative Danielle Gibson.
“When we went to Cranbrook for their rainbow crosswalk, I had some kids say, ‘It’s really cool Madame, because there’s kids talking about stuff that we deal with all the time. It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones.’”
FSS teacher Tara Elliot said it was great to see the kids come together and do something positive.
“I think it’s just a good initiative to show inclusion, and that everyone has a safe place in our school, which is really positive to see,” she said.