June has arrived, bringing good weather, barbecues, summer break, pool parties, and of course, Pride Month. Around the county, there are celebrations and meetings that are available to anyone that is either a part of the LGBTQ community or just there to support.
Some of the main organizations organizing these events are CARY – Community Allies of Rainbow Youth. CARY is a Howard County organization that “works with allies within schools to advocate for a safe and affirming learning environment for LGBTQ+ youth, raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, increase understanding of youth experiences across the LGBTQ+ community, and provide resources and support for all LGBTQ+ allies.” GLSEN – Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. This is a national organization whose mission is to “ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” PFLAG – Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. This nationwide organization has over 400 chapters and is dedicated to providing “confidential peer support, education, and advocacy to LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies.”
Listed in chronological order, here are some of the PRIDE events going on in Howard County.
- Fostering LGBTQ+ Inclusion – Tuesday, May 24th @ 6:30pm – This is a CARY public meeting featuring 2019 GLSEN Educator of the Year, Ace Schwarz.
- Sexuality and Gender Diversity in Autism – Monday, June 6th 7 – 8:30pm VIRTUAL – This is an event sponsored by Howard County Autism Society and PFLAG Columbia-Howard County.
- Rainbow Campfire at the Robinson Nature Center – Friday, June 24th 7-9pm –
This is a free event sponsored by the Robinson Nature Center and HoCo Pride for LGBTQ+ families. There will be a guided night hike, campfire and s’mores, animal encounters, and resources from HoCo Pride. You MUST pre-register for this event by calling 410-313-0400 by June 22nd.
All of these events are incredibly important to LGBTQ+ youth and adults. Sarah Stetser, the future PRISM club leader, said, “To me, Pride Month is a way to educate people on LGBTQ+ history, and recognize the struggles of those in the LGBTQ+ community. Though it isn’t as prominent, people are still being discriminated against because of their gender and/or sexuality, and it needs to be addressed. Schools often don’t teach LGBTQ+ history or health education and Pride Month gives a space for that.” It is imperative that Pride Month isn’t ignored or reduced to “the rainbow month,” as some call it. “Pride Month can also help those who are not out yet or are questioning their sexuality feel not as alone and find a sense of community.”