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Unity in Diversity

Unity+in+Diversity

Equality Club spreads love and acceptance on campus

Walking into room 505 on a Tuesday afternoon, one is immediately enveloped in a warm sense of love and acceptance. Club members gather around excitedly and president of the club, Cassidy Fiel, welcomes members with a big smile.

“You do not feel out of place at The Equality Club, you feel just right,” Fiel said.  

When the club starts, everyone gathers and sits.  Chatter and food munching decorate the space like garlands on walls, before Fiel calls attention by welcoming everyone again.  Fiel reads off goals they have reached; goals yet to be (i.e. clothing sale that exceeded the clubs expectations last year or simple ones such as how the members have heard praise about the club).

Then comes the members favorite part, where members, new or old, stand up and share anything they wish with the club. These subjects range from interesting tidbits members have found about LGBT+ or gender equality, current issues in the world, to things going on in their lives. As they share, there is no judgement. Nobody snickers or gives sideways glances.

“To me, Equality Club is a safe space for anyone to freely express themselves and be educated on the current standings of overall equality around the world,” a veteran of the club said, “I love it because everyone there wants to make a difference and try to make the world a more accepting place.”

At the end of lunch period, when everyone gets up to leave, students walk as if they have left enlightened about who their fellow members are, what they believe in and how they wish to accomplish goals to spread the love this special club has for its members over campus.

“Equality Club means the world to me! It gives people a safe place to be unapologetically themselves. The people that come to Equality Club inspire me everyday to be myself,” said Fiel, who is President of the Club.

President Cassidy Fiel leads weekly meetings at lunch in room 505

The Equality Club, which has been advised for three years by drama teacher Marcy Goodnow, has always had the important goal to spread love in different ways and forms. Last year, the club was put into the spotlight due to their impressive sell of their shirts that promoted the idea that Love is Love, which had students and teachers from other schools looking to buy one.

Another success for the Equality Club was the distribution of their rainbow pins which were given to over 200 students and staff of PRHS.

“Over half of our staff wanted them. And to me that was such a beautiful thing because the pin visibly supports students and states ‘I want to be there for my students,” Goodnow said. “ I want to let them know I am an ally. They are safe with me and they can talk to me.’ It was all about the idea: How do we want to spread love?”

In a world full of so much hatred and violence, this is much-needed advice. Members of the Equality Club know first hand what it is like to be degraded by people for being associated with a club that is so open and accepting, a club where love trumps all.

“Really it is about creating a space that is safe for students to talk and to support each other through things they are dealing with and opinions that they have, and how to make a difference. Really it’s all about supporting diversity” Goodnow said.

But they also know how to keep their head high and look past the haters.

“I have received a lot of negative reactions for being in the Equality Club, mostly of people making rude comments and making fun of LGBT+ people. A lot of kids think that Equality Club is just a club full of angry feminists that hate men and straight people, but that is definitely not anything like our club,” said club Vice President Liz Phillips.

Throughout the year, the club strives to promote acceptance around the community. One important event is a picnic where the PRHS equality club, as well as similar clubs from other schools, hosts a picnic where members sit, eat and talk with other students from around the county that share the same beliefs. To experience something like this picnic  gives students who feel like they may not belong  a chance to see how much people care about them. “Everyone’s accepted, everyone is loved. This is a safe place,  We want you to be yourself here, “ Goodnow said,  “Everywhere else on campus people may look at you like what are you doing? But here were like  yes, do you because you rock it and that’s a really important part of growing up.”

The Equality Club strives to allow kids to shed all worry, all doubt, all fear. This club lets them be who they want. To give confidence and love.

“I think we have enough anger and violence in our world and that kids don’t want that to be that way  and it’s important for you guys to know that it’s in your power. You guys have the power to change the climate of school whenever you want. Be someone who will stand up and defend people who don’t have that strength and confidence” Goodnow said.

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