The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Fox Lane celebrates Pride Week

By NATALIA BAAGE-LORD

A girl with neon pink hair walked down the hall at Fox Lane High School last week. Other students dressed up as the opposite sex, and many also wore bright, multicolored clothes and sprayed their hair purple.

From April 16 to 20, Fox Lane High School celebrated its inaugural Pride Week, raising awareness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) issues on campus.

“Any time the kids step up and take a leadership role and are passionate about something, it’s important to me that I can support them and guide them and help them make it happen,” said Robin Schamberg, assistant principal at Fox Lane High School. “This is something that the students have been building towards.”

Pride Week was implemented at the request of several students who wanted to show more support. For many years, the school has participated in the nationally observed Day of Silence, which creates awareness of oppression, and which took place this year on Friday, April 20.

The new weeklong events included several ways for students to embrace LGBTQ differences. Monday was Pride Day, where they wore rainbow colors to celebrate gay pride. Tuesday was Gender Jumble Day, where students dressed as the opposite sex to better understand the transgender community. Wednesday was Bisexual Day, which encouraged students to wear pink, blue and purple. As Thursday was the school’s Wellness Day, the students did not partake in any Pride Week festivities.

“We have a pretty strong Gay Straight Alliance group at the school,” said Peter Mathews, an English teacher at Fox Lane High School. “It’s a pretty open community here. Every school has its issues, but we are tolerant.”

Pride Week was implemented to teach the students about acceptance. The school has not reported any incidences of direct bullying, said Mr. Mathews, and the administration wanted to introduce different sexual identities to the students.

Some students are marginalized because they are different, said Ms. Schamberg, but Pride Week focused on celebrating what makes children unique. According to Mr. Mathews, the school wanted to “break open the definition of gender” and communicate a nontraditional example of gender and sexuality.

“We want the children to learn about tolerance,” Mr. Mathews said. “Intolerance is usually based on ignorance. So this is a week of opening their minds and educating the students so that there will be less ignorance and more tolerance. And you need to be good with yourself and accept yourself and love yourself regardless of what ingredients are going on inside.”

The halls at Fox Lane High School were decorated with posters, including a large mosaic of celebrities who are publicly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Some of the celebrities featured on the wall were well-known actors and musicians, including Angelina Jolie, Jane Lynch, Neil Patrick Harris, Adam Lambert, Ellen DeGeneres, Anna Paquin, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox and Alanis Morissette.

As it was the inaugural Pride Week, the students demonstrated a lot of bravery, said Ms. Schamberg. On the other hand, the school also demonstrated its recognition and openness of what could be foreign territory to students in other schools.

“This is a bold step,” said Ms. Schamberg, who stated that many schools do not share Fox Lane’s tolerant attitude toward the teenage LGBTQ community. “And I also think the kids really demonstrate a lot of courage by putting themselves out there. That speaks a lot to the fact that Fox Lane is a safe place for everyone. Because if kids feel safe enough to take this risk and do this, then I’m feeling better about the world, honestly, or at least our little corner of it.”

According to Mr. Mathews, the district’s administrators and the school’s principals were all enthusiastic about creating Pride Week at Fox Lane and allowing the children to discuss the differences in sexual orientation without discrimination.

Pride Week was spearheaded by Sophie Milkes, a senior at Fox Lane High School and current president of the Fox Lane GSA.

“I’m very excited about this living on,” said Ms. Schamberg. “Sophie was the force behind this. Hopefully, Sophie is going to be remembered as the student who started Pride Week at Fox Lane High School. That’s what really makes a difference. Hopefully, it will become part of our tradition. It will be nice if Pride Week could become a tradition. Sophie spearheaded this, and she is hoping that it will continue.”

Fox Lane High School expects to celebrate its second annual Pride Week in the spring of 2013.



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APRIL 27, 2012