Fenwick Pride Alliance Builds Community

     At the start of its second year, the Fenwick Pride Alliance (FPA) is ready to build a stronger sense of community both within themselves and with the rest of the school. 

     The FPA is a student group for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies to come together and build strong relationships with each other. The group focuses on equality for students no matter their sexual orientation or the gender with which they identify. Last year, the group focused on building a baseline for future years, but that didn’t stop them from making progress as well. The group’s goal was, and continues to be, inclusivity and understanding. 

     Last year was especially difficult for the group to get a strong start, as with COVID-19, meetings were only held over Zoom. This made it difficult for group members to form deep connections with each other, but the group succeeded through the hardships. They held group-wide events such as informational nights, trivia nights, and guest speaker visits to build a community. The FPA also petitioned for a unisex dress code. This year, they hope to have more in-person meetings and to continue to be a safe space for all. 

     The group was founded by student leaders Vince Beltran ‘22, Michael Sennello ‘23, Tate Daniels ‘22, and Gabby Kiel ‘21. Gabby and Tate separately reached out to Mr. Holmberg and Ms. Visteen to get a safe place for students and LGBT allies. “After I came out to my parents, I came out to a bunch of my friends and we decided it would be a good idea to form some kind of pride club at the school,” said senior Vince Beltran. They reached out to Michael and other of their friends to form this club, creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students at Fenwick. They both agreed that finding teachers to assist wasn’t difficult as the staff of Fenwick are very supportive. “Mrs. Visteen, the 2022 counselor, was eager to help us get started, and Dr. Riggs, Mr. Faille, and Mr. Wieckiewicz were soon to follow,” answered Michael Sennello when posed the question about finding support systems. The student body has all recently signed the Parent/Student Handbook stating that “Fenwick pledges that no one will face discrimination based on race, gender, religion, culture, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” so the group hopes that students and the school will continue to be supportive.

     The main goal of the group will always be to be a safe place for students to be who they are without any judgment. Additionally, the group hopes to encourage and inform school stakeholders about the advantages of establishing a unisex dress code, the importance of pronouns, and building a community where students feel supported by administration in the event that intervention is needed.

     To wrap it up, each interviewee was asked if they had any words of advice for LGBT+ students at Fenwick. Michael said, “Your people are here. Lots of people I know are completely unable to be open at home but are open to us here at the club. YOU ARE WELCOME HERE. Find your people; we are waiting with open arms.” Vince added, “If possible, try to find friends that are understanding. Even if you feel like there’s no one you know at Fenwick that’s accepting, trust me, there are people who will accept you for who you are. I’m hoping this club makes it easier to find people that are accepting. If you ever encounter homophobia, please report it right away; talk to teachers you trust.”

     The FPA plans to continue making strides towards equality and growing their community to build a strong sense of self within Fenwick. They are making progress every day and are not afraid to show themselves truly, and hopefully guide others to that same self-realization.