As Crescenta Valley High School student Sklyer Marmorstein strolled through a bustling and noisy quad during a campus snack break Tuesday morning, it was easy to spot the multihued junior through a sea of bodies.
Marmorstein clutched a traditional rainbow-colored LGBTQ pride flag in one hand and a blue, pink-and-white flag representing transgender rights in another, while wearing a gray Star Wars letterman jacket adorned with several pro-LGBTQ pins.
Within minutes, Marmorstein received hugs, pats on the back, winks and a multitude of smiles on the second day of the school’s fifth annual Ally Week.
“This is why it’s important,” Marmorstein said. “Ally Week is about acceptance and support, and it’s about getting beyond the bullying and harassment.”
Ally Week, created by the National Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is marked by five days of student activities that call on local Gay Straight Alliances to lead a conversation about the meaning of “allyship.”
An ally, as defined by GLSEN, is someone who supports marginalized groups they do not identify with.
This year, Crescenta Valley High’s GSA co-adviser Alicia Harris was beaming, thanks to some new Ally Week partners.
“I’m really excited about our [Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps],” Harris said.
“Between ROTC and football and the Armenian Club, these groups that maybe others would stereotype as not supportive of LGBTQ, here at CV, they’re breaking down those barriers,” she added.
That morning, the Crescenta Valley GSA was selling LGBTQ trinkets and clothing, while enrolling students to sign pledge cards explaining why they chose to become an ally. The cards will be displayed around the school.
“The money we raise will help fund the club and a portion will also be donated to local charities,” said Sarah Ricci, Crescenta Valley High’s GSA president.
After Tuesday, GSA members have several plans, including a choir performing from 10 to 10:15 a.m. during snack time on Wednesday, a guest speaker from San Gabriel Valley Planned Parenthood from 12:20 to 1 p.m. on Thursday and events starting at 7 p.m. during the school’s football game Friday on Moyse Field.
While there are plenty of outdoor activities, Harris said she is equally excited about what’s been happening in regards to LGBTQ acceptance and education.
“For us, this has to be more than just the rainbows,” she said. “We’re seeing more teachers doing lessons plans inside their classrooms and bringing up topical items.”
Harris pointed to the dictionary Merriam-Webster recently accepting the pronoun “they” as singular in reference to people who identify as nonbinary.
Freshman Katelyn Fester applauded the idea of more information.
“We just need a lot more awareness of the different terms and what they mean,” Fester said. “It’s not annoying, but I’m always answering questions about what terms mean.”
Fester identifies as pansexual and demisexual and describes the former as meaning she “doesn’t care what your gender is. It can be girl, boy, nonbinary or transgender; I just care about the person.”
A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.
Fester is proud of the steps the school community has taken.
“There’s always room for improvement, but we’ve come a long way in just the last few years,” Fester said.
Marmorstein, who identifies as male, says the LGBTQ community is thriving, thanks to partnerships created through Ally Week.
“It’s very important to not just be alone, because once you’re alone, there’s no other hope,” Marmorstein said. “But, together, we can grow and come together.”