Pride Week at Branksome Hall was a fun-filled and important week, celebrating the personal expression and diversity that makes our community strong.
The week kicked off on Monday, October 7 at our Senior and Middle School Pride Week Assembly, led by student co-heads of the Gender Sexuality Alliance, Janice and Aiden. “Branksome Pride Week is essential to the community because it openly advertises that at Branksome, members of the LGBTQ+ community are not only included and acknowledged, but also protected and cherished,” says Aiden. “My hope for Pride Week is that it allows any student who is part of the community to feel ... they are in a safe place.”
At the Pride Week Assembly, we had the privilege of welcoming Olivia Nuamah, Executive Director of Pride Toronto. She spoke to students about the important work the organization does within the LGBTQ+ community, creating spaces where people can “be whomever they want to be.”
The theme of this year’s Pride Week was “Pride Through the Arts,” and it was represented throughout many of the week’s activities. From the beautiful rendition of the song 1950 by King Princess, performed by students Pilar and Maylee at the Pride Week Assembly, to the creation of buttons featuring inspirational quotes in the Junior School, self-expression through the arts was on full display. According to Janice and Aiden, this year’s theme was selected for another important reason: “We have a responsibility as a very arts-involved school to recognize the significant contributions that the LGBQ+ community has made to art of all mediums and disciplines”.
Not only did students participate in Pride Week through arts activities, they also had the opportunity to discuss the concept of Pride in class and within their Advisor groups. In Senior and Middle School Advisor groups, students discussed how we can be both inclusive and have space for personal expression at Branksome. There aren’t “right or wrong” answers to questions like these, and the thoughtful discussions that transpired are representative of the spirit of inclusiveness and sense of community at Branksome Hall, as well as the community’s willingness to hold space for big conversations and to make room for every voice to be heard.
Pride Week activities weren’t only for Senior and Middle School students—Junior School students also participated in activities, particularly focusing on self-expression and the concept of inclusion. In addition to creating inspirational quote buttons, Junior School students explored the theme of “love is love” through community circles, a “Post-It Mural” displaying what students loved, and a “Green Carpet Express Yourself Walk,” where Kindergarten students sashayed down the green carpet, striking poses and expressing themselves while dancing and laughing.
As a relatively new Branksome tradition, Pride Week is an important part of the school year where we can have meaningful conversations about inclusion, identity and self-expression, and an opportunity to celebrate who we are. As Aiden puts it, “the celebration of Pride Week is, above all, a celebration of diversity.”