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The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

Student Club Feature: PRIDE Club provides safe haven for LGBTQIA+students at West

Above, members of the Normal West Pride Club pose with a guest speaker during a first semester event.

Normal West is home to many different clubs, each catering to a specific interest or group. One of the most notable clubs is the Pride Club, which provides a community and safe haven for students.

The two sponsors, Spanish teacher Ms. Evans and science teacher Mrs. Long, have been hosting the club since 2014.

“When [Pride Club] began… [it] was much more geared toward fighting for acceptance,” Evans explains. “It’s the reason why we have things like the gender neutral bathroom and the name change flow chart…”

Evans explains that for the past couple of years, Pride Club has become more social than advocacy based. “Now we have our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, so a lot of those changes are happening at a district level and not on teenagers to do, which is awesome.”

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though.

Senior Ashley Gonzales, who is the activism leader of Pride Club, recounts the criticism the club received in her sophomore year. “We were hosting pride week… and on one of the days, someone dressed in a fur suit and stood next to the table…”

Gonzales continues, saying that, “As a result of them standing next to pride, they were associated with pride, and it caused problems.”

One of the problems was when a radio station wrote an article which painted Pride Club in a bad light, citing various student rumors and misinformation as evidence.

A major criticism of the event from the station was the belief that an email explaining the activities of the event were sent only to staff and students. “Parents have access to the announcements,” Gonzales refuted, “Pride openly tells the school to promote it, so parents are definitely aware…”

Evans also shared how backlash to their Drag Queen panel forced its cancellation for the next year. After they did it one year, the administration received countless calls from various groups who were incensed by it, and for the sake of the anonymity and safety of its students, they canceled it for the next year.
“We just have to balance how much feather ruffling is okay and how much is not worth it,” she adds.

Despite all of the criticism, the club continues to host many events in order to give LGBT students a safe space and a place to learn more about the community.

Evans explains that, “we try to balance our meetings with light [activities] or more serious [topics]… we’ve done things like a queer adults panel, trans or non-binary adults panel… we [also] participate in the homecoming parade… [and] we try to do something for Transgender Day of Remembrance.”

“We had a World AIDS day to inform people about AIDS and HIV” Gonzales said, along with “Painting pumpkins for Halloween [and] the “Holigays” Christmas party…”

One of the biggest events they put on is the aforementioned Pride Week.

“At the end of the year we have Pride Week, where anyone’s able to participate… We typically have a wheel in front of the IMC where you get prizes for answering pride themed questions,” Gonzales explained.

Pride Club offers an important service to students who might otherwise not be able to express themselves. It’s open to anyone and everyone is welcome.

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