Point of Pride

The newest Parents Association affinity group is ready to share information, support, and just plain fun.

Affinity groups are a crucial part of the Sidwell Friends community, whether they’re for students or for parents and guardians. They provide a safe space to talk, share struggles and successes, receive support—or just have fun.

That was the case on February 13, when PA Pride, the newest Parents Association affinity group, got together for a virtual pre-Valentine’s Day social. Members raised glasses to love, enjoyed chatting with one another, and played a low-stakes game of trivia focused on LGBTQIA+ history. (The largest Pride parade in history was in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 2019, with more than 3 million people in attendance.)

The group, which made its official debut during Homecoming, was a long time in the planning, largely due to COVID. But now they’re official and active.

“The main purpose is to make sure we foster an inclusive, welcoming environment for both students who identify as LGBTQIA+ or are questioning, and for students who come from parents or families that are LGBTQIA+,” says Erik Sass, the clerk for PA Pride. “To be clear, the School is already doing a fabulous job of that, so we’re here to support them. The students have been very sophisticated and eloquent advocates for themselves. And on the parents’ side, the biggest thing is being an informational resource for everyone. Including ourselves—it’s not like we’re necessarily experts.”

PA Pride is unique in that they provide a space for a wide variety of community members. While many affinity groups share one quality—whether it’s race, religion, or cultural background—PA Pride has parents who are LGBTQIA+; parents with children who are LGBTQIA+; parents with children who are questioning their sexual orientation; and allies. The group’s breadth, Sass says, is actually one of their strengths.

“I fully admit I’m learning a lot about things,” Sass says. “Through this group I’m learning about the experience of young trans-people and how we can be more supportive of them. Another thing I’m cognizant of is that the experience of LGBTQIA+ people can vary quite a bit by their socioeconomic status, race, immigrant status, and cultural background. And PA Pride is a great place to learn.”

In addition to social activities, the group is looking ahead to compiling a list of resources for both parents and students, possibly providing an anonymous forum for people who want information but aren’t ready to ask publicly, and launching a series of informational sessions, both for the group and those outside of it.

Education, support, and fun are aims of all affinity groups; PA Pride is no different. And, judging by the stickers sported by community members at Homecoming—whether they were members of PA Pride or not—the Sidwell Friends community is ready to celebrate and support the newest addition.

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