Celebrating Pride Month – June 2022
Pride Month is an annual event typically celebrated in June around the world. Over the course of the month, we recognize and celebrate Two Spirit & LGBTQIA+ contributions and identities, and the allies who stand in solidarity and support. It is also a time of action; a time to raise awareness about the discrimination, hate, and violence toward Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ people and communities.
During Pride Month, Rainbow or Progress Flags are being raised at the Education Centre and all HWDSB schools. The annual flag raising is to honour and celebrate students, families, and staff of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. Last year marked the first time that all HWDSB schools raised the Rainbow Flag for the month of June.
Artist Gilbert Baker designed the original multi-coloured Rainbow Flag in 1978 in San Francisco. The Transgender Pride Flag was designed by transgender activist and veteran Monica Helms in 1999. Artist Daniel Quasar combined both renderings to reimagine and redesign the Progress Pride Flag in 2018. The flag’s black and brown stripes represent marginalized LGBTQIA+ communities of colour, community members lost to HIV/AIDS, and those currently living with AIDS.
By raising the Rainbow or Progress Flag, HWDSB schools can symbolize their solidarity with Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ people, while recognizing there is still important, ongoing work to support human rights, equity, and inclusion.
Unfortunately, many students, staff, and families who identify as Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ do not always feel safe at school or within their broader community. Sexual orientation and gender identity play an important role in well-being, and are often sources of harassment and discrimination. This unfortunate reality was recently spotlighted due to a hateful act in our community. Incidents like this one should serve as a reminder for the importance of Pride Month efforts.
Outside of June, HWDSB schools continue to promote inclusion and acceptance of all students, families, and staff. Learning activities, events, and celebrations throughout the year often include a focus on people, such as Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+, who experience unsafe and exclusionary conditions as well as harmful and violent acts of bullying and harassment.
Practices that support and empower Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities help to provide safer and more inclusive learning environments. With one in nine people identifying as LGBTQIA+, we know these identities are present in our schools and in need of support. Therefore, we have an obligation to represent Two Spirit & LGBTQIA+ identities through curriculum implementation and school and system practices that promote safety, respect, acceptance, and inclusion for all.
This Pride Month, we challenge you to take any knowledge gained over these next few weeks and apply it to your work over the entire year. Your efforts will make a difference in your school and work communities, as even the smallest acts can have the greatest impacts.
Thank you for helping all students, staff, and community members know they are welcome at HWDSB.
Paul Denomme (he/him)
Superintendent of Student Achievement, Equity and Student Engagement
• Pride Month Toolkit
• Positive Space Best Practices Guidebook
• This Pride Flag Redesign Represents the Diversity of the LGBTQ+ Community
• Speqtrum Hamilton – offers peer supports and community building for Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ youth.
• Trans Lifeline’s Hotline – a peer support phone service run by transgender people for transgender and questioning peers. 1- 877-330-6366.
• Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line – confidential, non-judgemental, and informed peer support. 1(800) 268-9688.