'Devils for Diversity' Promotes Safe, Inclusive Environment at McKinnon Park Secondary

A display promotes gender inclusion

Caption: A display at McKinnon Park promotes acceptance

There are no idle hands at McKinnon Park Secondary when it comes to equity and inclusiveness.

That’s because student-led group Devils for Diversity is working hard to promote a safe, welcoming environment for all students. The group's membership consists of students who advocate for a more accepting and diverse culture, including but not limited to representatives from the LGBTQ and Gay-Straight Alliance groups, students from multi-cultural backgrounds, Indigenous communities, and any students who are interested in social activism to promote equity.

“Devils for Diversity is a place for students who are especially interested in social justice, and more importantly, in creating a culture of kindness at the school,” says Jennie Curtis, teacher and staff advisor for the group. “It’s definitely necessary to unpack what is going on in the media right now in terms of LGBTQ rights, women's rights, and issues of equality to empower the students to understand that they can have an impact on society in a positive way."

Throughout the year, the club plans and implements a variety of signature activities to build awareness of social justice including the pledge against bullying, “Take a Stand,” Pink Shirt Day shirt sales and promotion, and Post-It Positivity to send positive messages throughout the school. It strives to increase cultural awareness of Indigenous traditions through a number of initiatives including a presentation on the contributions of Indigenous peoples during the annual Remembrance Day assembly, setting up a display on the Residential School System to coincide with Pink Shirt Day, and by providing information on missing and murdered Indigenous women.

This month, Devils for Diversity is planning video announcements to highlight Black History Month, Pink Shirt Day, and has arranged a Lunch-n-Learn featuring a speaker from Community Living Haldimand to present on about being differently abled. Plans are also underway to bring Egale training to the school leading up to Trans Awareness Week, and, after hosting the Rainbow Ball for the last two years, is looking forward to sharing the celebration with Brantford Collegiate Institute, which will host this year.

The group’s mandate is right in line with Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, which prioritizes the promotion of practices that help students, families, and staff feel safe, welcomed, and included.

Devils for Diversity meets biweekly throughout the school year.

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