Pride, In Their Own Words: Leanne Iskander
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Pride, In Their Own Words: Leanne Iskander

Leanne Iskander has blossomed in her role as activist. Photo by Michael Erickson.

Dyke March

Start: Church and Hayden streets

Saturday July 2, 2 p.m.

Pride Parade

Start: Church and Bloor streets

Sunday July 3, 2 p.m.

I never expected the GSA issue to be so well-known. To be honest, I didn’t really expect anyone to care about the situation at our school. In our school, it was just myself and a couple friends who were talking and thought that it would be pretty cool to have an LGBT club or group at our school. We didn’t know what GSAs were—we found that out when we Googled it—and then we decided to propose one.
I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned from the experience was that even a system as strong as the Catholic school system will eventually bend to meet the needs of the students if there’s enough pressure. The bishops’ decision to allow LGBT-specific anti-bullying groups was a huge step that I really wasn’t expecting. I think it has encouraged me to keep fighting for a GSA. I’m pretty optimistic that we will eventually get there.

If I could do it over, I would try to find some way to include the students who wanted to actively be part of the movement, but who couldn’t because they weren’t out or because their parents aren’t accepting. It bothers me that they could never attend all the events with us, and that they could never personally meet all the amazing people who are so supportive. Really, the GSA is for those students, because they need the support most. I think they should have an opportunity to fight for it.
The support from the community has been amazing and so much more than I would have ever expected. The attention this issue has gotten from the public and from the media has really given us a venue for our voices to be heard. Stonewall was definitely my favourite event this year. It really meant a lot to me to see so many people carrying signs saying things in support of our GSA. It’s so touching to see that although the ban on GSAs doesn’t affect these people directly, they care anyway.
I imagine being co–grand marshal and honoured dyke will be an incredible experience. I’m pretty baffled as to how I got nominated, since I’ve only been an activist for about four months and there are so many other people who have been doing things for the community for decades. Nonetheless I am extremely grateful, and I think having those roles will bring even more attention to our cause. We need to bring all the attention we can get to the issue in order to build our coalition of students and lobby the provincial government to support GSAs in every school.
I’ve learned a lot and met so many amazing people through my experience trying to get a GSA. It has brought me closer to all the other queer students at my school. The experience has taught me to stand up for myself and my rights.