Back to School Outdoor Gathering Celebrates Inclusion, Community, and Connection

Whether they were participating in the poster project, doing origami, getting temporary tattoos, taking part in a read-along, eating pizza, or just resting on the Arlington High School front lawn listening to music, over 120 attendees of all ages enjoyed themselves at the Back to School Outdoor Gathering held on September 30, 2023. The event was planned and hosted by the Arlington Public Schools LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Leadership Task force, a group established by APS and the Town of Arlington LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission

Community member Molly Blaauw Gillis and APS Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Mona Ford Walker are the Task Force co-chairs. Approximately 15 leaders that span the elementary school Rainbow Alliances, middle school Queer Straight Alliances, and high school Gender and Sexuality Alliance are members. These educators, administrators, students, parents, caregivers, and community members planned the gathering to create community and celebrate inclusion and belonging across schools. They also wanted the gathering to provide an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ students and their families to connect.

A percentage of the proceeds from the gathering were donated to support future Task Force events. This event was the first of many activities that the Task Force is planning for the upcoming school year. Some of those activities include Community Conversations and the annual district-wide Pride event.