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SAC celebrates first Pride Week

Well-rounded people are adaptable to a wide range of activities, open to considering other people's ideas, and interested in the world around them.

True to our mission statement, which states we are dedicated to the development of well-rounded citizens, St. Andrew's strives to be free of harassment, intolerance, and discrimination. We aim to instill the concepts of fairness, balance, and acceptance in all students, starting in Grade 5 to graduation.

Our first Pride Week, Oct. 18-22, is one more step toward providing a safe and supportive space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, questioning (LGBTQ2+) members of the Andrean community and beyond. The week's events also spoke to straight ally students and staff, ensuring all people on campus are charged with creating a safe place for everyone.

"We can't ignore the LGBTQ+ Old Boys, current students, and prospective students," says Claudia Rose-Donohoe, A Middle School teacher and one of the 13 faculty members who organized the rainbow-infused week. "We want to make this a welcoming environment for people to express themselves."

SAC's inaugural Pride Week was set in motion during a casual nachos and beer gathering in September when 13 MEDIC (Masculinities at Schools for Boys: Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity Committee) members formed a sub-committee and started planning a multi-discipline schedule that included guest speakers, art and music, and decorations throughout the school.

Here is a sampling of some of the activities and initiatives:
  • The Honourable Justice James C. MacPherson joined Upper School students in Memorial Chapel to talk about same-sex marriage and how it became legal in Canada. James was one of the judges who presided over the landmark decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal, finding the prohibition of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
  • Conner Rowntree '13 spoke with the Middle School boys in Ketchum Auditorium. He was interviewed by Broadcast Journalism students for the latest episode of SAC TODAY, shown to Upper School students.
  • Stacy Kelly, director, philanthropy of The 519, was a virtual visitor in Ketchum Auditorium speaking with Middle School students about LGBTQ history month. The 519 is Canada's most prominent LGBTQ service provider and community centre, delivering programs, services, community engagement, capacity-building, and advocacy.
  • Pepe Garieri, a facilitator with Egale Canada, spoke to Middle School students about the importance of language, how to be an ally, and gender identity, among other subjects. Egale is an organization that aims to improve and save lives through research, education, awareness, and by advocating for human rights and equality in Canada and around the world.
  • The Arts Council prepared colourful canvases that were displayed in Staunton Gallery, and the Theatre Tech Council provided music during break times.
  • The Library Council made a display that included a curated book display.
  • The new maker space was used to create Pride pins for staff members to customize with paint.
  • The Laramie Project film telling the story of the aftermath of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming was shown during Upper School advisory. 
  • All available staff gathered on the steps in Staunton Gallery for a group photo under a balloon rainbow.
  • Parents, students, and staff driving to campus were greeted with the Pride flag shown on our new LED sign.
“All members of the Andrean community deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We are celebrating Pride to show that there is no place for discrimination at SAC, says Emily Keating, math teacher, Assistant Head of Flavelle House, and one of the organizers. “The decorations and visuals in the Staunton Gallery show our commitment to creating a safe place for our students, staff, and all members of the community. We look forward to continuing this initiative in the coming years.”

The hope is for students to take the reins in subsequent SAC Pride Weeks, but for now, many positive discussions have been sparked at all grade levels. 

St. Andrew's is a safe space and Pride Week emphasizes the growing focus we place on student and staff well-being and the sense of belonging created through a caring learning environment.

If you are looking for someone to talk to or you have questions about the LGBTQ+ community, please see these links: 
PFlag York Region (resources and events in the York community) 
Youthline (confidential text, phone, live chat for LGBTQ+ youth) 
The Trevor Project (largest suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ teens) 
St. Andrew's College
15800 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON L4G 3H7 Canada
Tel: 905-727-3178