Austin’s annual PRIDE parade, originally scheduled earlier in September, was rescheduled to the 30th due to Hurricane Harvey, and the extra time allowed Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) a chance to get middle schoolers transportation to the parade, which is a new option for ARS.
GSA is a student-run organization that allows students to have a safe place to discuss their gender and sexual identities. Members are offered an opportunity to go to the pride parade through Austin ISD, but this service is only offered to the high schoolers, because the middle schoolers don’t have their own GSA.
“Middle schools usually actually have their own GSA, and the high schools have their own,” said GSA sponsor Ms. Kim Collins. “The reason for the separation is that a lot of the topics that are discussed at a high school GSA are not necessarily age-appropriate for a middle school GSA.”
In order for high school GSA members to go to Pride Parade on AISD busses they need to fund raise. Ms. Collins has to figure out transportation, and she has to have enough chaperones to take kids on the trip. The conditions for taking middle schoolers raises the requirements.
“The extra time allowed me to work out with administration how we would do the separation, because with the district middle schoolers actually travel separate from the high schoolers,” said Ms. Collins. “Having that extra time gave me the means to set up permission slips for middle school, as well as providing transportation for middle school.”
The middle schoolers heard about the change almost immediately, and some of the 8th graders seemed to be especially eager for the chance to attend the parade.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing a bunch of people who are in the same community as I am,” Izzy Ochoa (8) said.
Overall, the middle schoolers felt a sense of acceptance and anticipation when they found out they’d be able to go.
“This year, when I found out that it was just going be high schoolers it was kind of disappointing,” Cassy Steuerwald (8) said. “Having the chance to go, because I’ve never been to a pride parade, I feel like that’s a big part of being in the community, so it’s a great opportunity.”