BHS Leads the Way with Crosswalk to Equality

by Julie Liebman

It’s not every day that students come together to paint a crosswalk. But Beaconsfield High School’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club (SGA) did just that.

After months of planning, a grant application, and thanks to the support of the staff who run the club, Felipe Perez Aranguren, a history teacher, and Stephanie Miller, a Guidance Counselor, the project grew into something tangible, exciting, and inclusive.

The term Crosswalk for Equality was coined by the students as they brainstormed to create something symbolic that would represent BHS’s SGA. While there is a similar crosswalk in the Gay Village and one in Dorval, this is the first of its kind at a school and that’s what makes it truly unique.

During a SGA meeting, Miss. Miller and Mr. Perez Aranguren discussed the things they wanted to accomplish during the 2022-2023 school year with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club. The teachers mentioned the rainbow crosswalk idea and the kids were so excited and agreed to help create one.

“We began brainstorming ideas last October, applied for the grant in February, got the funds in April and wrapped it up in June. On the last day of exams, the students even stayed longer to be able to paint and complete the project,” says guidance counselor, Stephanie Miller.

The club received a 500$ grant from OSEntreprendre in the student-led category which covered the cost of materials.

Our crosswalk is a symbol of inclusivity at large. When parents drop off their child at BHS or if they are shopping for a high-school, they immediately see our rainbow crosswalk. Ironically, it now also makes the entrance to our school safer for walkers and bussers”.

As a member of the LBGTQ+ community, Mr. Perez says the support of colleagues, parents, and administration makes him even more proud to work at BHS. He wishes that more schools would have similar welcoming clubs for students who struggle with coming out.

As the project began to take shape, BHS Art Teacher, Andrea Domanski, also got involved and helped the club pick the right paint that would work on the asphalt and gave students some personalized painting tips.

“I am so proud of our students and staff for continually supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Our Crosswalk to Equality demonstrates the compassion and care that we have for everyone, and that BHS celebrates and welcomes diversity and promotes inclusion,” said BHS principal, Rachel Wilson.

When asked what the project meant to her, Stephanie Miller is adamant.

“For us, it’s a project that we would like to continue from cohort to cohort, that can be touched-up or beautified every year. Witnessing the completion of it last June was emotional because the students worked hard throughout the school year to get this off the ground – from conception to execution – and they were committed to making this happen. Our crosswalk is not only a symbol of inclusivity but it’s also a reminder to the community at large that BHS is a safe place for the LBGTQ+,” she says.

“We want people to know that BHS is an inclusive school,” explained Mr. Perez.

“This was a big undertaking that our students wanted to lead. The last large-scale project the club initiated was creating a gender-neutral bathroom two years ago. I am so proud of what they’ve accomplished and how we have a permanent symbol of diversity and inclusion.”

“BHS is a safe space for LBGTQ students,” he says. “I hope more schools follow in our footsteps and embrace diversity and inclusion.”

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Allan Levine

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