Lumsden High School Saturday will be the home of the third annual, day-long student summit for the Prairie Valley School Division’s Gay-Straight Alliances, or GSAs.
At the third annual, mostly-student-led conference, students will hear from guest speakers and learn about the building GSAs and building up the support for the Prairie Valley LGBTQ+ community.
Lumsden GSA staff advisor Paula Dvernichuk said kids particularly in isolated rural settings will feel uncomfortable coming out due to a fear of bullying.
“And so, in Prairie Valley we’ve done a great job of trying to bring those kids together and so that there are those connections,” Dvernichuk said. “It’s really been a focus over the last decade for our division to make sure that every kid feels like they are seen and heard and supported.”
Students attending will learn about how to build GSAs in their schools, as well as collaborating with Queer, Questioning and Allied peers. Dvernichuk said they expect about 100 students attending, and they’ll be between the ages of grades 6 and 12.
“Lots of the sessions that are available to the kids are led by different students,” she said. “We have a couple of crafts sessions, We’re going to do some prep leading into Pride month because June is Pride Month.”
Speakers will talk about growing up queer in a small town and tips on preparing for Pride Month in June. One of the speakers is a former student who went to Lumsden in the days before GSAs, to talk about their experiences coming out before a GSA was at the school.
For the conference, Dvernichuk said they’ve had great support from the division and the community.
“We’ve reached out to members of the LGTBQ community who have just… (said) ‘Absolutely, what can we do to let these kids know that they’re not alone’, and just wrap them in love and let them know there are people out there and that the community is out there waiting for them.”