With the initiative of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Ridgewood High School raised the rainbow of the pride flag to meet the stars and stripes of the American flag on June 13th. The image of the two flags blowing in the wind brought many at the ceremony to tears, and the joyous spirit extended into the speeches from the co-president of the GSA, junior Charlotte Simpson, and RHS’s principal, Dr. Thomas Gorman. The raising of the pride flag marked a momentous success for many members of Ridgewood High School’s LGBTQ+ community.
Simpson and the GSA’s advisor, Sheryl Soucy, recently approached the administration to discuss how the entities could work together. With Dr. Gorman’s help, they decided to hang a flag permanently in the Campus Center, which will be up by the start of the 2017-18 academic year, as well as a flag outside the school during June, which is Pride Month.
The attendees of the ceremony yesterday, many of them members of the GSA, remarked on the importance of flying the pride flag at their school. Faith Gardner, a freshman, explained why she attended the ceremony, “I’m personally a member of the LGBT community so I think this is a big step for Ridgewood. I hear a lot of gay jokes around the halls, so I think this will help to raise awareness.” Simpson expanded on this, “It means a lot to me that our administration was willing to step forward and take the risk, and to put the flag up to show that they care about their student body.
Many students were surprised by the willingness of the administration to fly the pride flag, especially given the current municipal debate about flying a rainbow flag at Town Hall. However, Dr. Gorman was clear of his and the administration’s message through the decision, “It shows support for a group of people that face oppression. If we can support any students who are going through these struggles, we just want them to know that this is a safe place for them. Ridgewood High School is a caring and nurturing community…this is just one more way to make the students feel safe.”
Mrs. Soucy, the GSA advisor of six years and a health teacher at RHS, felt it important to acknowledge that flying a pride flag was apolitical, “People were concerned that the perception of our decision would be seen as political, but it truly is not…it’s just about the support.”
The GSA is incredibly proud of the result, and they are continuing to sell pride flags to benefit the Pride Center of New Jersey. Simpson looks forward to the future of the GSA next year and beyond, “We want the LGBT youth in the school to feel as accepted as possible, not only through providing a safe place as a club, but as being an activist group that tackles stigmatism and anything that makes a student feel uncomfortable based on their sexuality.”
Graphics: Ana McDade, Lia Collado