Reopening: Moving Toward More Equitable Schools
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Students Are Keeping Pride Alive

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    Monarch Academy’s Student Alliance

Guest blog post from Monarch Academy’s Student Alliance comprised of Max, 6th grade student, Fiona, 6th grade student, Eliot, 8th grade student, Calista, 6th grade students, Julian, 6th grade student, Haven, 6th grade student, Mx. Lizz, Monarch Staff, and Rob Noble, Monarch staff. 

Although we are apart due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to remember and celebrate that we are all part of a very special community. We belong at Monarch Academy Public Charter School. We all have the responsibility to cultivate a school environment that feels safe and inclusive for all within and beyond our school walls. As the Monarch Academy’s Student Alliance, we feel this year, although it may look different, celebrating Pride Month is more important than ever. 

Showing Pride During A Pandemic 
Pride means you can be yourself without the fear of being judged. It means you are treated equally. It’s about being proud and confident in who you are so others know they aren’t alone. When you show pride you are showing that you value and respect yourself. When one person shows pride, it sends a message to others that they can be confident in who they are and show off their skills to the world! 

Since we’ve moved to distance learning, the Student Alliance has been something we look forward to each week. Doing school from home can be a lonely experience, and convening as an alliance is a time we talk to friends, connect, and remind each other that we are in this together. Seeing each other is the perfect pick me up each week. When one of us feels down, we are there for each other to lift each other up again. Not only do we spend our time together making connections, but we also use our voices to make a change for our school community. 

This year for Pride Month, we had grand plans about how we were going to celebrate with our entire school community. We planned a Day of Silence for our peers and teachers and were looking forward to marching in the Annapolis Maryland Pride Parade. Together, we created a new plan that we are just as excited about. 

Expressing Pride Through Art 
We sent a letter to all students, families, and staff inviting them to participate in a virtual art gallery to showcase their Pride! The art gallery is an opportunity for all of us to put our uniqueness and the importance of diversity and inclusion for all into art. 

We saw this as the perfect opportunity for everyone to be creative, show their Pride support, and convey a message of self-love. Organizing this project gives everyone a chance to do something powerful and impactful, even when we are all at home. Since we can’t get in front of our school community to discuss these issues, we hope it will open up lines of communication between our peers and their parents. If they are working on this project together, parents can speak intentionally to their kids about Pride and diversity as a whole. Our project is just one way communities can celebrate Pride this year. We’re looking forward to seeing all the creative and colorful ways the LGBTQ+ community shows their Pride.

Supporting Pride and Inclusion in Your School Community 
It’s always surprising to know that a lot of school communities don’t have a group or an alliance like ours. We encourage all students and educators to start by creating a space for your LGBTQ+ students, staff, and allies. Having spaces like this contributes to a safe and welcoming school environment. It allows for conversations about gender identity and inclusion when there may not have been space for that otherwise. 

One thing we have learned is that inclusion is everyone’s responsibility.

We all have to pay attention and stand up for each other if one person is being bullied. We all have to educate ourselves on simple things we can do to create a safe space. We all have a responsibility to treat each other equally and with respect. We don’t have to agree with each other, but we do have to make sure we are seen and heard, and that includes using a student’s correct pronouns. 

We’re proud to be members of our Student Alliance because we get to create spaces where everyone, students and staff, can feel they belong.