27 Aug 2020
When students at Calwell High School realised there was an opportunity for their school to better meet the diverse needs of the student community, they mobilised to create an inclusive, student led support network for LGBTQIA+ students, called the Calwell High School Sexuality and Gender Alliance group (SAGA).
SAGA was founded in 2017 and now includes over 40 student members who meet twice a week to provide a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ young people.
The students have used their voice to advocate for important issues around the school, successfully securing a non-gendered bathroom and creating SAGA hoodies to identify themselves as mentors for other students who might be in need of support. Their next big project is Wear it Purple Day this Friday.
Belonging to the SAGA is an empowering experience for the students, many of the group members now have greater confidence in themselves and their own identity.
“It’s very important for the students who might not have come out to their families yet, they can come here and be accepted for who they are,” said one group member.
Their great work is making an impact in the school and beyond. The group won the 2020 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year Group Achievement Award in July for their work promoting an inclusive educational environment and being a being a positive example of students coming together to overcome adversity.
Through partnerships with ACT Health School Nurse and YWCA Canberra Youth Engagement Team, members can also develop their skills and knowledge for the future, such as the opportunity to complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol certification (RSA) or a barista course.
“It’s great seeing young people come together to have their own space, to be themselves, to get to know other people, in a comfortable and safe space,” said Thomas, a long-time member of the group.
The students also had a message for anyone who may be considering joining but might have reservations: “We’re a family and everyone is welcome here.”