Dunbar’s Gay-Straight Alliance Kicks off Ally Week
Sponsored by English teacher Mrs. Amber Faris, the club started activities for Ally week on Sept. 25.
Ally Week is a national movement targeting students in grades K-12 that encourages students to be allies with the LGBT community, and to combat bullying and harassment through education and awareness. This year, Ally Week is from Sept. 25-29.
Several Dunbar students and teachers were in attendance to hear a guest speaker, Tuesday Meadows, who is assistant editor and advertising manager of LinQ Magazine, president of the University of Kentucky LGBTQ* alumni group, and a board member of Lexington Fairness.
Meadows began the talk with a clarification of the difference between an ally and an accomplice.
“An ally is someone who is kind of a cheerleader,” she said. “It’s someone who stands by and cheers you on, but doesn’t really get their hands dirty. An accomplice takes action alongside you.”
As a trans woman, Meadows explained how recent issues about trans people “being a burden or distraction or unfit to serve” have caused stress within her community, referencing the stories of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old trans woman who committed suicide in December 2014 and Scout Schultz, a Georgia Tech student who identified as non-binary, and was killed on Sept. 16.
“It’s tough,” she said, adding “please get help if you need it…we need you out there.”
There are some places where being LGBT is more difficult than others, but Meadows said that Lexington is “a pretty open and accepting place.”
In fact, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who was elected in 2010 and who is openly gay, proclaimed June 29, 2013 as Pride Day.
This year, there were 30,000 Lexington Pride festival attendees this year. In comparison to Louisville, in which 4.5% of the population describe themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, Lexington had more festival attendees in 2017.
Meadows ended the discussion with advice for cisgender accomplices who want to help their LGBT friends.
“Get involved early, and volunteer with organizations where you can make a difference,” she said, “but beyond being politically active, it’s important to be there for other people, and to just listen,” she said.
Finally, she appealed to attendees to not get discouraged because their generation can still make positive changes in the culture.
“You all are going to change things. Not me. Not Mrs. Faris. You.”