Today the Smithers Secondary School held the first of its kind pride celebration for the LGBTQ student community, according to teacher sponsor for the Gender Sexuality Alliance Perry Rath.

He says the aim is to celebrate accepting people for who they are.

“I’ve had many discussions with people who disagree with this – we don’t expect to convince other people,” says Rath. “My role as a teacher is to help students discover who they are.”

He says many students still struggle with bullying and isolation.

“They feel alone – they feel like no one is there to understand them or support them. And they’re not sure who’s going to be on their side if they tell their family. So a lot of kids aren’t comfortable coming out in a small town like Smithers until they move away,” says Rath.

He says over the last decade of the GSA, more students have felt comfortable coming out about their sexuality.