Somewhere over the rainbow: WEGO’s GSA celebrates LGBTQIA+ spirit week


Photo by Ja'Nyah Villa

English teacher and GSA adviser Brad Larson wears an ally tag, sold by the club earlier in the year.

By Ja'Nyah Villa, Guest Contributor

West Chicago Community High School’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is in the midst of celebrating Rainbow Week with a number of activities planned to help promote inclusivity.

Members of GSA pose before baking rainbow items for the bake sale held in Commons April 18-20. (Photo by Ja’Nyah Villa)

Rainbow Week is celebrated in schools across America, and typically consists of activities that bring awareness and create paths for LGBTQIA+ student-safe spaces within the community. Science teacher and GSA adviser Christina Sladek worked with club members to schedule many activities, including dress-up days and a bake sale.

Rainbow Week kicked off Friday, April 14 with National Day of Silence, a day in which participants take a vow of silence to represent people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community that has been silenced, either due to home situations or societal oppression.

“Students can participate in 2 ways: 1) taking a vow of silence for the day to demonstrate how LGBTQ+ students are being silenced or 2) taking a vow of no silence and speaking up against the discrimination LGBTQ+ students face.  There are also virtual rallies they can participate in as well,” Sladek said.

Not only was Friday the National Day of Silence, but GSA also set up a photobooth and coloring station in Commons to celebrate.

April 14 was also the first spirit day associated with Rainbow Week. Each day of the week, April 14 to April 21, has a designated color of the rainbow, starting with red and ending in violet. A display in the library has been set up with books that incorporate LGBTQIA+ characters, or those by authors who are a part of the community. 

GSA provided staff with “safe space” fliers earlier in the year, but teachers like Michelle Sladek go a step further, adding rainbow decor and other posters to make all students feel welcome and seen. (Photo by Ja’Nyah Villa)

Today, GSA launched an affordable, rainbow bake sale, which will continue through Thursday in Commons.

Tomorrow marks “Chalk the Walk”, which will be held after school on Wednesday. All students are encouraged to show their support by joining in as GSA uses chalk to decorate the sidewalks of West Chicago Community High School, and promote awareness, especially in light of recent laws that have emerged in other areas of the country that discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals.

“So many states have passed legislation discriminating against LGBTQ plus individuals, which is both hateful and harmful,” said Sladek.

For students in GSA, Rainbow Week is an important reminder that they are not alone, and have the support of their peers and staff.

“Rainbow Week makes me feel really happy because if I see someone in the halls that I think is participating in Rainbow Week, it shows that other people care, and not just GSA members,” Rowan Canabal Ferris, a freshman at West Chicago Community High School, said.

GSA advisers also hope that, because of current events the LGBTQIA+ community is facing, Rainbow Week will spread positivity throughout the school.

“It’s important for WEGO to celebrate Rainbow Week because it allows our students and staff who identify as LGBTQ plus to be seen and represented throughout the building in a positive way,” Sladek said.