LGBT History Month
Students celebrate historical icons
November 2, 2022
When junior Aubrey Conaway posted an innocent rainbow makeup look on TikTok, she knew her identity in the LGBT community would soon be revealed.
This brought up many emotions for Conaway: some negative, some positive and some feelings of wishing there was more acceptance for the LGBT community.
“[LGBT History month] helps people learn about others in their community,” Conaway said.
LGBT History Month, which takes place during October, aims to achieve that goal by bringing awareness to the community and acknowledging the achievements of LGBT social and political leaders.
The representation itself is what’s important to me, and that any student can see someone who is the same gender identity as them as a role model.
— Emily Thompson
Each day during the month, the Equality Forum, a national and international LGBT civil rights organization, honors one historical icon by sharing their stories and honoring their accomplishments.
Emily Thompson, French teacher, identifies as bisexual and has been out since college. For her, LGBT History Month provides an opportunity to educate her students about the community by decorating a bulletin board and discussing influential figures.
“The representation itself is what’s important to me,” Thompson said. “And, that any student can see someone who is the same gender identity as them as a role model.”
Language arts teacher Lauren Williams, sponsor of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), has worked with her club and STUCO in the past to campaign for anit-bullying. This year, they worked on daily slides on the monitors in the Commons that highlight LGBT leaders.
In GSA, they work on bringing awareness to the community and representation for all students.
“We have a lot more discussions about intersectionality and marginalized groups within the LGBTQA+ community,” Williams said. “We have in our group norms that we honor all identities.”
For Raymond Holmes, librarian, LGBT history month allows him to educate and connect people to the community by setting up an “LGBT History Month” display in the Library window.
“Our whole goal is really just to bring attention and awareness to the many different types of stories that the LGBT community has brought to Marquette and to the world,” Holmes said.
The display features a St. Louis-themed pride flag and a dozen novels by LGBT authors. The books contain stories of pride and experiences of LGBT community members.
“Some of our books are meant to just inform people about what it’s like to be a LGBT person and of their experiences,” Holmes said. “There are a lot of students who, if they’re straight or an ally, read these stories and will realize what they have in common with someone they thought they were very different from.”
[LGBT History month] helps people learn about others in their community.
— Aubrey Conway
Associate Principal Dr. Tracey Wackerle said staff and administrators have done their best to accommodate all communities and to build a safe, accepting environment for everyone.
“We’re seeing a lot more opportunities for students to learn more about each other,” Dr. Wackerle said. “In general, I hope that Marquette High School is an open, welcoming space for all students.”
The Board of Education also has made changes to district policy in the past few years to ensure safe and accommodating conditions for all students and staff, regardless of their differences or identities.
According to Policy 2130, which went into affect in 2019, “The district prohibits any and all forms of unlawful harassment and discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
While this policy’s intentions are clear, when approached by the Messenger for interviews, some staff members declined to comment due to the current environment in the community.
Dr. Wackerle said the goal of RSD is to create a safe and accepting environment for all.
“We’re hoping that more and more things are integrated into the school community to learn about diversity in general, and that includes everybody,” Dr. Wackerle said.