Nfld. & Labrador

'It feels really, really good': Springdale students honoured by Pride selection

Members of the school's Gender-Sexuality Alliance will be the grand marshalls of the 2018 St. John's Pride parade in July.

High school's Gender-Sexuality Alliance selected grand marshalls of St. John's parade

Springdale students Meghan Paddock, Claudette Rideout and Claudia Lilly support their school's GSA and are excited to be part of St. John's Pride this summer. (CBC)

The widespread attention of their push to have a rainbow crosswalk painted in their town has shown them the importance of speaking up for your beliefs, say the students of Springdale's Indian River High School's Gender-Sexuality Alliance.

St. John's Pride announced the student group as the grand marshalls the 2018 parade on Thursday.

"A lot of times as youth we hear that our voices aren't as important because we're young, but what this thing has really taught us is that we do have a voice, and we can use it in the most positive way as possible," said Meghan Paddock, a Grade 11 student.

In early April, the school's Gender-Sexuality Alliance submitted an application to Springdale town council asking that a rainbow crosswalk be painted next to the school as a sign of solidarity and to promote inclusion in the community.

The town's council voted 4-3 against the proposal on April 9, and then rejected the proposal again on April 30 after students pleaded their case to council a week prior.

The story received national and international attention, and St. John's Pride remarked on the "poise and dignity they showed when thrust into national media attention" in announcing the student group's selection as the parade leaders for the 2018 Pride festival.

National attention on Springdale

That national attention came as a surprise to the students.

"We wrote the letter to the town, and we hadn't expected it to get such media recognition, let alone national recognition," said Paddock, who plans to attend the parade in St. John's July 15.

"We didn't expect it to blow up like this at all."

Still they are grateful to be part of the wider conversation, said Claudia Lilly, a Grade 12 student.

Claudia Lilly, wearing buttons showing support for the LGBTQ community, says she thinks Newfoundland and Labrador is becoming more progressive. (CBC)

"We're showing not only the students in our school that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, if you put the work into it, and you can start conversations that are needed and are wanted everywhere," said Lilly, who also plans to march in the parade.

"It shows every youth in the province that you can do anything if you really want it."

Crosswalk discussion continues to spread

The ripples from their actions continue to spread across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Local clothing company Hard Case Tees is taking preorders for a t-shirt that reads "Springdale is for Lovers" that features a rainbow crosswalk in the design.

Musician Jessica Bemister made a parody song and video called "Paint the Crosswalk" that has now received more than 42,000 views on Facebook.

And while in St. John's Thursday night for a sold-out show, drag performer Alyssa Edwards, who is from Texas, mentioned the crosswalk.

Meanwhile, crossings similar to the ones the Indian River students hope to see in their town are popping up in other towns like Stephenville and Logy Bay-Outer Cove-Middle Cove.

"It's really inspiring, although we didn't get one, we did start other ones," Lilly said. "It's really cool to see how we started something, and so many others were impacted, and they felt like this is something that they should do as well."

Corrections

  • A prior version of this article said that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary would be co-grand marshalls of the 2018 St. John's Pride parade. That is not the case.
    May 22, 2018 9:01 AM NT

With files from Garrett Barry