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Clarenville High beams with pride as SPEAK group paints rainbow crosswalk

Raven Lake is a 2018 graduate of Clarenville High School. Photo by Grant Pelley.
Raven Lake is a 2018 graduate of Clarenville High School. Photo by Grant Pelley. - Contributed

CLARENVILLE N.L. — “You can be open about who you are, and be accepted for that. Don’t be afraid,” Raven Lake told The Packet.

Raven, leader of Clarenville High School’s SPEAK group, has gotten together with her peers to paint the crosswalk in front of Clarenville High rainbow, in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community.

Lake said she contacted her peers and teachers to see if they would be on-board with the idea of having a group like this at their school. SPEAK or Students Promoting Equality and Kindness, is a group that is for LGBTQ people, and all minority groups within the school.

“It’s for people just helping other people,” says Raven.

Earlier this year the group had a bake sale, where all the funds raised went to Mykayla Payne, who was participating in the Shave for the Brave.

Lake was approached by teacher Jill Bourgeois about the idea of having a rainbow crosswalk as well as a pride flag placed on the property.

“At first I was afraid of the negative backlash it would get, but I was reminded by her (Bourgeois) how it could be such a positive thing to some people,” Raven said.

For some people, it can be difficult to open up on such topics as being a part of the LGBTQ community — this is Ravens motive to execute these projects, to be able to allow an individual to be open about their identity and have the support they need.

Along with her friends and group members — Bourgeois, Megan Janes, Kaitlyn Adams and Abby Asukwo, they began painting the crosswalk during their busy final exam week.

“We started with spray paint, one block at a time until we ran out,” she said.

Alongside the rainbow crosswalk and the pride flag flying outside Clarenville High, Raven created a mental health awareness board within the school to help people discuss things that aren’t shared as much publicly.

Raven would like to see the Town of Clarenville organize and hold a pride parade or pride activities in the future. She hopes businesses will show their support by flying pride flags themselves.

Lastly, Raven says if someone is struggling to open up about their identity to “find a good group of people to surround yourself with, to be who you are and who you want to be, and not face negativity about it.”

The crosswalk is not completely done, but will be finished, hopefully in the following school year by new SPEAK group members.

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