The year 2020 was filled with a tremendous amount of social change and upheaval. Over the course of days, Las Vegas schools, hotels, and businesses closed their doors and entered a period of great uncertainty. As the world adjusted to the “new normal,” the world also began reflecting on the ways in which the “old normal” could be improved.
Which takes us to the birth of The Pride Tree.
The Pride Tree began in November 2020, after a 15 year old, gender-fluid student of mine came to online school noticeably upset. She stayed after class and shared with me that she had received an Instagram direct message demanding she send sexually explicit photographs of herself to the messenger or the messenger would “find her and kill her.” When my 15 year old student tried to share this experience with friends of hers, she was muted and told she was “being annoying.” While approaching several adults she streams with online, she was given the advice, “If anyone tries to come mess with you, you know martial arts and can beat them up.” I was the first adult she approached who responded in a different manner.
It is well documented that human identity forms as a teenager. Imagine the stereotypical, “rebellious teen years.” It is also well-known that sexuality and gender are powerful parts of an individuals’ identity.
The Pride Tree has a simple mission. Our mission is to create safe environments in which LGBTQ+ youth and allies can explore their own identity. We strive to create events and programming where all people have the freedom to be whoever they want and to express their own identity openly and without fear. Our intention is never to influence, compel, or persuade anyone to adhere to any particular lifestyle or belief. We are an organization founded by educators, focused on including voices that represent the diversity of the communities we serve. As we continue to expand and establish ourselves, our programming will include topics such as:
In addition, we have plans in place to develop a mentorship program, an annual summer camp, family programming & tutoring.
Creating a new normal will also be hard work, but we commit to the following to help make sure every student is included:
Last but not least, we strive to represent the communities in which we serve and we go out of way to elevate the voices of those who have historically been underrepresented. A majority of our board identify as LGBTQ+. A majority of our board members are people of color. We have multiple bilingual board members, as well as multiple female board members. In addition to the incredible diversity on our board, our board members come from a range of professional backgrounds, including experience in the education, nonprofit, legal, accounting, and medical fields. With the help of an incredibly diverse, talented board, I look forward to helping create a new normal for LGBTQ+ youth and allies throughout Southern Nevada.
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