BEDFORD, N.Y. — Fox Lane High School’s Gay Straight Alliance is hosting the school’s first-ever Pride Week, and it has a lot of activities planned for this week to raise awareness of queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
“The bulk of the GSA is made up of freshmen, and a lot of them came up with really creative ideas. I was very impressed,” said Sophie Milkes, who is an out bisexual and president of Fox Lane's GSA. She said many of the students are former members of Pride in Purple, the middle school’s version of the GSA.
Monday was designated as Pride Day. Students were encouraged to wear rainbow colors, and some had club members spray-paint their hair pink. The cafeteria was decorated with rainbow streamers, and informational posters were put up around the school.
Tuesday is Gender Jumble, or Transgender Day, when students dress up like the opposite sex, and Wednesday is Bisexual Day. Pink, blue and purple bisexual flags with facts will be hidden around the school.
Thursday is scheduled as Fox Lane’s annual Wellness Day, and Pride Week culminates in the National Day of Silence. On this countrywide day of observance, several hundred kids, and some teachers, sign a pledge not to speak from the first school bell to the last. Students do have to answer teachers’ questions, however.
“It recognizes and grieves for and acknowledges the oppression that existed for so many years,” said Peter Mathews, the club’s adviser, who is an out gay English teacher.
The club is asking everyone to wear black to mark the day as a solemn occasion, and members want to make that clear, adding that victims of bullying and hate crimes are also the day’s focus, Milkes said.
Last year, according to Milkes, a group of students at the middle school dressed in black to protest the Day of Silence. Mathews confirmed this incident, but said people at Fox Lane High School, as well as at the middle school, are extremely open, including the superintendent, the principals, the vice principals and the students.
Although Fox Lane has issues just as other schools do, Mathews said GSA advisers from other high schools are encouraging. “I usually get the same response, that they wish their school was open and supportive and responsive as ours.”
Last June, several students chose to out themselves on the front page of the school newspaper, Mathews said. One student wrote an article stating that he took the plunge because he felt Fox Lane was a safe place to come out.