Area schools at­tend first ru­ral gay-straight al­liance sum­mit

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Kyle Smylie The Drumheller Mail sub­mit­ted

Stu­dents from three area schools at­tended what’s be­ing touted as the first ru­ral gay-straight al­liance con­fer­ence in Canada.

Mor­rin School, JC Charyk School in Hanna, and Delia School sent ju­nior and se­nior high stu­dents to the GSA Al­liance Sum­mit in Strath­more on Oc­to­ber 11 to talk about ways schools and ad­min­is­tra­tors can sup­port GSAs in their schools. Over 200 stu­dents at­tended the event with a strong show­ing from Prairie Land Re­gional School Di­vi­sion.

Out of 60 schools in­vited, 15 at­tended the con­fer­ence at Strath­more High School.

REACH Well­ness Worker Katie Sun­t­jens says Mor­rin School sent 13 of their stu­dents, out of their 47 to­tal sec­ondary stu­dents, and she says she was sur­prised by the sup­port from their di­vi­sion.

“It was great to see how these stu­dents can rally and sup­port each other and cre­ate some change,” Sun­t­jens said.

Mor­rin School cur­rently does not have a GSA but hopes the con­fer­ence will in­spire stu­dents to cre­ate one. Delia School has an ac­tive GSA and JC Charyk is in the process of de­vel­op­ing one.

While city schools have had GSAs for a num­ber of years, ru­ral schools have been slower to cre­ate clubs, but Grade 11 Mor­rin stu­dent Made­line Cun­can­non hopes that starts to change.

“Peo­ple of the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity had their voice heard, I hope it hap­pens more and more,” she said, adding stu­dents face dis­crim­i­na­tion and iso­la­tion which is per­haps more pro­nounced in smaller, ru­ral schools.

“I think so. Hope­fully that changes but small schools al­ways carry stig­mas, to put it in a po­lite way. It could be lonely, I guess, be­ing in a school of 140 stu­dents where no one talks about it or talks about it in a neg­a­tive way,” Cun­can­non said.

Stu­dents from Mor­rin School were one of four schools from Prairie Land Re­gional School Di­vi­sion who at­tended.

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