For everyone With pride

On one of the hottest days of the year, Sunday 4 February, we gathered to celebrate all things Pride at this year’s Midsumma March in solidarity with gender and sexually diverse folk. Meeting at the Ian Johnson Oval in St Kilda to slap on some sunscreen, unions joined companies, groups, clutches of colleagues, individuals with their dogs, and packs of friends to march down Fitzroy Street. Music blared, the crowd cheered, and there was a general sense of camaraderie across the suburb.

While later news reports concentrated on a clash between protestors and police, our experience was far removed from that as we celebrated all things queer.

As it is every year, the experience of walking down the street as a united force against bigotry was a positive event. Teachers from TAFEs, kindergartens and schools, education support staff, early childhood educators, principals, and AEU staff marched as allies with all LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and members of our communities.

“We’re loud and proud about creating a school environment where all student and staff members feel valued, respected, and free to be their authentic selves.”

Alex Leemann

AEU Victoria was out in force, visible and proud: there were sub-branches with highly decorated banners, and clusters of people excitedly catching up with kith and kin. The importance of the day does not diminish over time; if anything, its relevance continues to grow since that first Gay Pride March in New York in 1970. Australia followed not far behind and in 1978 the newly formed Gay Solidarity Group held the first Mardi Gras parade in Sydney.

As always, the AEU contingent was hugely colourful, members and families walking together and showing our collective strength. Consistent with all areas of our work, in Pride, we are stronger together. The message remains clear: it is important to show students our solidarity, and to remind ourselves that there is no room for small-mindedness or bigotry in our education system. 

AEU sub-branch rep and English and Literature teacher at Dandenong High Alex Leemann was there. “I was stoked to participate in this year’s Pride March alongside members from the Dandenong High School sub-branch,” he told us. “We’re loud and proud about creating a school environment where all student and staff members feel valued, respected, and free to be their authentic selves.”

Melissa Brown. English teacher at Brunswick Secondary College, agrees. “Attending events like this, together, shows that we support each other,” she said. “Our support extends to our colleagues who cannot attend today. And as you can see from the reactions of the people lining the street, our support extends to the children and young people we teach, and families.”

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