If you need further proof that the latest generation of kids is the most socially progressive in modern human history, look no further than the students of Fernie Secondary School.
Their District Student Advisory Council (DSAC) has championed the painting of two rainbow crosswalks near the school in support of the LGBT community, with more to come in downtown Fernie.
I am very new to this community but I will venture a guess that this would have been unthinkable only a few short years ago.
Never mind that Fernie is not your typical mountain town with its impressive arts scene, liberal politics and abundance of hippies, the fact that a small high school in the middle of the Canadian Rockies would champion such an initiative is impressive.
The students undertaking this project are members of “Generation Z,” the generation born after millennials and they are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow. These are the people who might not know where they were on 9/11 because they were either too young or not yet born.
While my generation had to wait for dialup, they’ve never lived without a solid internet connection.
While my generation grew up in the boom times of the 1990s, their generation has only known the world of the post-2008 recession. While my generation has taken for granted America’s leadership in the world, their generation is not so sure.
But most relevantly, my generation was born in the waning days of heteronormativity and theirs doesn’t think gender is such a big deal.
A 2016 study by the American forecasting agency J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group found that only 48 per cent of 13 to 20-year-olds identify as “exclusively heterosexual,” compared to 65 per cent of millennials aged 21 to 34.
As reported in Vice News: “On a scale of zero to six, where zero signified “completely straight” and six meant “completely homosexual,” more than a third of the young demographic chose a number between one and five, indicating that they were bisexual to some degree. Only 24 per cent of their older counterparts identified this way.”
When I was in high school in Montreal, there were no gay students. Only students that weren’t gay, yet. There was tolerance but not celebration and if some of my former classmates eventually did come to terms with their sexuality, they did so on their own.
Sexuality is of vital importance to the core of a person’s being and teenagers are vulnerable. So the folks at Fernie Secondary might have just done a world of good for some students and all it cost them was a few buckets of paint.