Hastings Elementary has one of the district's first elementary school Gay-Straight Alliances.
The Hastings ALLY club was the brainchild of Hastings Elementary Grade 7 student Kalayla McMath. McMath, who is also an aboriginal learner, got interested in LGBTQ issues from her mother as well as her sister, who is active in the Templeton Secondary GSA.
McMath was tired of hearing kids around the playground use inappropriate language. Sayings such as "That's so gay" rankled her and she decided to do something about it. She approached Hastings teacher Sheelagh Brothers, First Nations Support Worker Amanda White and Youth and Family Worker Kirsty Babcock to see if they could start a club. The adults reached out to anti-homophobia mentor Stephanie Lofquist, who came by the school to talk with McMath and her budding club about how their new GSA could raise awareness around LGBTQ issues.
McMath and her friends then took a field trip to David Thompson where they visited that school's GSA and learned about how they could get set up.
"Their group was fantastic," said Brothers. "Our group had written up questions like what do you do? What challenges do you face? They told us all about the activities they do."
Armed with this information, the club members, which had grown to 15 Grade 5-7 members thanks to McMath's outreach, decided to organize a bake sale to support Jer's Vision after hearing him speak to their school. They baked up a storm, made posters and strategically placed them throughout the school. Then the students made custom ALLY rainbow t-shirts and set up their booth at the Hastings Spring Fair.
After a lot of hard work, the club managed to raise over $100. It was just a start.
While the money was inspiring to the students, Brothers says one of the most powerful things about the club has been how it has increased awareness in the school about the idea of acceptance for all kids.