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, Ihope 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.