Lumsden High School hosts Gay-Straight Alliance Student Summit

High school students from the Prairie Valley School Division gathered in Lumsden to build and support the LGBTQ2S+ community with the third annual Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Student Summit.

Paula Dvernichuk is a teacher at Lumsden High School and said over 100 students participated in the summit.

"We have about 120 participants here at the school and we are doing different sessions on what GSA is like the history of queer, what it was like to grow up in a queer in a small town,” said Dvernichuk. “We did some arts and crafts and we had some queer literature while just trying to celebrate our LGBTQ2S+ kids.”

Cas is one of the student leaders for the event and one of the speakers, he says its taken time to become comfortable talking about his story.

"The main reason that I always tell people is that so people can kind of understand that specifically regarding like LGBTQ2S+ mental health, they are not just numbers, they are actual people,” said Cas.

Cas adds there is no better feeling than providing a safe space.

"I think part of the mission for me anyway has always been ensuring people have a safe space to be,” said Cas. “I can't describe the feeling of being in a room with a bunch of other people that are exactly like you.”

Ashlynn Brooks and AJ Angell traveled from Milestone Sk. to Saturday’s event and are motivated by Cas’ story.

"I can relate to their stories like what I'm going through and like being non-binary and deciding which pronouns I want,” said Angell. “Which sexuality goes along with it makes me feel more comfortable.”

Providing a safe space for the students to be themselves was a goal for Dvernichuk.

"The excitement Saturday morning of the kids just being themselves,” said Dvernichuk. “Asking questions like, I can use my real pronouns, or I can, use my real name, I can wear what I want, and be who I want.”

Dvernichuk adds that smaller communities are improving when it comes to accepting the LGBTQ2S+ community.

"I think as more and more communities understand that these kids are here and that more LGBTQ2S+ community is in the small towns, it's only going to get better and better for these kids and it's only going to get better for the community,” said Dvernichuk.

Organizers are hoping that the summit spreads to other schools within the division in the future.