By Mckenzie Swanson
Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to come in contact with an incredibly heartfelt and impactful woman in our community. Being the organizer of the Spruce Grove GSA Society, Jody Tucker, is an amazing citizen who helped create change where some would’ve thought it to be impossible.
With her own child struggling with bullying based off of their identity, Jody knew Spruce Grove needed a change. Asking for help, she found an amazing advocate and friend in Shelly Tunney, as well as with Lauren Alston of the Alberta GSA Network. Now, between the direction and advice of these two phenomenal people, and a ton of support from her family and friends, Jody started the Spruce Grove GSA. With their opening day on January 11th 2018, Jody watched the LGBTQ community of Parkland County grow into a Society.
“I wanted to create a place where kids could meet other kids like themselves. Where they weren’t just the one LGBTQ kid in the class or on a team. They were all the same, they were all LGBTQ kids or allies. They all had the same hopes, fears, and dreams, and could relate to one another and share their experiences together.”
With their purpose to bring LGBTQ youth and their allies together to provide a safe and inclusive environment, the Spruce Grove GSA Society provide peer support and encourage our youth to embrace others of various ages, gender, religion, and ethnicity from all towns and schools around Parkland County.
“As the Spruce Grove GSA Society becomes more recognizable our youth are gaining confidence. They are finding their voices and strength. They are standing up to bullies, and calling out bigotry. Our youth are leaders!”
Currently meeting once a month at the St Andrew’s United Church, the Spruce Grove GSA Society get together to discuss different topics of concern from kids of the LGBTQ community. Some of these questions include: Why is it ok for cisgender folk to kiss in public, but LGBTQ folk can’t even hold hands? How can I tell if someone likes me? How do I come out to my friends and family? And what do you do if your family rejects you? Welcoming anyone a part of the LGBTQ community, especially the youth ages of 12-24, as well as people who wish to stand beside and with them, this group discusses the history of change our world has seen in the LGBTQ community. Plus, they also have fun activities including crafts and other creative ideas, such as message in a bottle to your future self, galaxies in a jar, painting on tiles, and many other unique activities.
Finally, after asking Jody a series of questions, I had asked what advice she would give to the community about such a controversial topic and this is what she said: “Be kind. Be compassionate. Love one another and don’t judge. And to the parents and adults of the community, I beg of you to hear your children. The most often asked question at the GSA is how do I get my parents to see me? How do I get my parents to hear me? I’m not just asking for our LGBTQ kids, our cisgender kids need to be seen and heard as well. Please hear your children. As to the youth of our community, give our LGBTQ kids a chance. They are amazingly cool kids. If you are ever brave enough to hang out with us, our doors are always open!”
I couldn’t of said it any better myself. I hope you read this article with an open mind and open heart, and I encourage you to check out the Spruce Grove GSA Society. I, myself, am definitely going to.
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