Student voice is incredibly important to us at Lowther Hall and is an important aspect of our mission to educate the whole person. This means that when students come to senior staff with proposals, we give them a hearing and try to support them to bring their ideas to fruition. So it was a year or so ago, when some Senior School students asked if they could form a Pride Committee to provide a safe space for students who themselves were, or who had friends or family members who were, members of the LGBTQIA+ community. This Committee has been running ever since and has led initiatives within Senior School to build understanding of the history of the Pride movement and increase awareness of some of the challenges faced by the community.
Earlier this year, members of the Pride Committee asked whether we would be prepared to show our support of the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride month (June) by flying the Pride flag at the front of the School. The girls felt this would be a tangible symbol of support and provided strong reasons for their proposal. Whenever a new suggestion is brought forward, we consider it in light of the School’s values and priorities. One of our values statements refers to “Inclusivity, diversity and acceptance of difference within our girls’ school context”. We also identify as one of the Qualities of a Lowther Hall Girl, that we want students to develop a sense of belonging. It seems consistent with our priorities, then, that we have a tangible demonstration of our support for members of the LGBTQIA+ community within our school. It was for these reasons that the answer to the girls’ request was, “yes!” For the final week of Term 2, beginning on Monday, we will therefore be flying the Pride flag alongside the Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag. The flag that we will be flying is the rebooted Pride Flag, designed by Daniel Quasar, which includes new colours to represent queer people of colour and trans individuals.
It is a tragic fact that young people within this community have a higher incidence of mental health issues and a higher suicide rate than their peers, and so support and a demonstration of inclusion can be extremely important for this group. I am proud that our girls are prepared to advocate for change and action in this space and I hope that when you see the flag flying you will feel that it affirms our values as a diverse and inclusive community.
Ms Elisabeth Rhodes