STONEWALL -- Funny thing about this club -- the students are the teachers.
It didn't start out that way. It began modestly three years ago, a gay-straight alliance set up to support students who felt like outsiders because of their sexuality.
They now call it FREE, Friends Recognizing Everyone Equally, and it numbers about 20 Stonewall Collegiate Institute students.
It's more than a club. It's been selected by school board officials to do diversity training for all staff in the Interlake School Division, guidance counsellor Tara Didychuk says.
It all began after the students met with the school board and senior administrators to talk about Bill 18, the Selinger government's recently passed anti-bullying bill that requires schools receiving public funding to accommodate students who wish to set up a gay-straight alliance or similar club.
"We also talked to them about our group, FREE, and how it's really good to have one so people feel accepted and have a place to go," 17-year-old Charlie Carrier says. "A lot of the schools have set one up, but they don't have a lot of people that are a part of them and they're not sure how to keep them going."
So the division recruited them to be gay-straight alliance ambassadors and teach teachers about what to do to make groups such as FREE work in their own schools.
The first session was held in Teulon, the day before the start of the school year. Three of the students met with high school and elementary school teachers.
"It was an amazing experience," Ericka Erickson, 16, says. "It was so much fun. A lot of them were really receptive and wanted to hear what we had to say."
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