By Zaine Eback and LaWrynn Edwards, Panther Paw editor and managing editor
In honor of both National Coming Out Day and LGBTQIA+ History Month, SPA (Saegertown Pride Alliance) hosted a unity meet on Oct. 14 after school. Around 21 people attended, including ten members of the club and parents and allies.
Club members created and placed flyers around the school to welcome students to the event, and treasurer Arion Knott ordered cookies. Other members prepared for the unity meet by cutting out paper hearts that participants could use to write and display positive messages of support.
“Since we received a generous donation from Cambridge Sprinkles,” Knott said, “We wanted to do business with them again.”
In his welcome at the event, SPA President Royal Miller shared part of President Joe Biden’s October 11 address: “Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are… regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.”
LGBTQIA+ History Month was established in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a high school history teacher in Missouri. This month initially was chosen to include the national holiday, National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. This holiday aims to celebrate people who have come out as members in the LGBTQIA+ community, and those who are not ready to come out yet. LGBTQIA+ history month is also the anniversary of the first march in Washington by the members of the community in 1979.
“We need to all be able to be our true selves and work to have more visibility so that students don’t mistakenly discriminate against members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” club adviser Stacey Hetrick said. “I’d also like to see a lot more allies. I think that we underestimate how many people intersect with this community through friends and family members.’
Guidance counselor Christy Mogel agreed: “It was a really positive event,” Mogel said. “I was excited to be a part of it, and I wish we could have had more allies.”
The club’s future plans include hosting meetups with their sister clubs at Maplewood and Cambridge Springs, selling ALLY shirts, and scheduling holiday celebrations and other social gatherings. SPA is always welcoming new members and allies to the club. To join, go to room 215 on Wednesdays during Lunch plus or see Mrs. Hetrick.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School