Pennridge Ally Week

Makenzy Portney, Student Writer

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What is an ally? To ally, is to unite or form a connection; and an ally, is defined as a supporter, but not necessarily a member of a marginalized group. We have seen allies through the NATO alliance, the World Wars, and even in games like hide-and-seek. But from April 15 to April 18, Pennridge celebrated Ally Week, four days dedicated to diminishing stereotypes and exclusion, while supporting and advocating for LGBT+ awareness. While being an ally to this wonderful community should last all year long, this week it is at the forefront of our school’s spirit.

Ally Week is not unique to Pennridge High School. It was started by the GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) in October of 2005 and many schools participate for a week of their choice. Ally Week at Pennridge was organized by SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance). The goal of the alliance is “to bring awareness to the existence of the LGBT+ community at Pennridge and encourage both students and faculty members to become allies”, as described by SAGA leader Katrina Janeczko. Ms. Grimshaw, advisor to SAGA, recalls that she was a member of her high school’s Gay Straight Alliance (the former name for SAGA) because she thinks “it’s important to make sure those students have a voice and representation.”

From April 15 to April 18, the pride flag was proudly hung in the main entrance of the high school. Additionally, SAGA members distributed rainbow heart stickers to students. Furthermore, teachers were able to show their support by hanging up “I am an ally” posters in their classrooms. There were also spirit days: Monday- flannels, Tuesday-crazy socks, Wednesday-blackout, and Thursday-rainbow.

Although Ally Week has come to an end at Pennridge, a lot of the things that are encouraged during Ally Week can still be implemented all year long. Janeczko noted, “Students and faculty alike are encouraged to consciously consider their behaviors and change them in a way to be more accepting of the LGBT+ community.” We can do this every day, simply by avoiding stereotyping and the spread of misinformation about our LGBT+ friends, and correcting those who do. Janeczko’s hope for Ally Week is that “queer students will see these efforts and feel more assured that they have support from their peers and teachers, and as a result won’t feel the need to hide their identities for fear of bullying or exclusion”.