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Ellsworth High School Gender Sexuality Diversity Alliance create Ellsworth PRIDE

After learning about health disparities the Ellsworth High School Gender Sexuality Diversity Alliance (EHS GDSA) wanted to paint rainbow crosswalks to raise awareness and show support for the LGBTQ community. They petitioned school and town leaders, and got permission to paint crosswalks on school property, but the Ellsworth Town Council voted not to allow any rainbow crosswalks on downtown streets. Students decided to fly Progress Pride banners on Main Street for Pride month 2021, and at this point Ellsworth PRIDE, a community coalition, was created.

Hearing about the City Council’s vote, Cami Carter from Orono offered us four animal-shaped wood sculptures painted in various Pride flags. Soon after, Lori Chase of Coastal Interiors offered her jersey barriers as canvases for Pride-themed art and donated a bear to be painted, starting Ellsworth’s own Pride zoo. Many other Ellsworth-area people created their own Pride animals for display in the park in June, but we did not stop there.

I submitted a grant request to the Maine Community Foundation, and they generously awarded $5,200 to initiate a Pride event aiming to educate youth about community building and diversity. On June 13th we held the first annual Ellsworth PRIDE Festival in Knowlton Park, with over 600 people attending.

Since the crosswalks were painted, participation in EHS GSDA has doubled and teens have learned how to petition school boards and town councils for change, write grants, and discovered that sometimes a setback is an opportunity to think even bigger.

Students have volunteered hundreds of hours, raised about $9,000, worked on press releases and flyers, and have been actively engaged in creating positive change in our community.

It only costs about $500 to paint a crosswalk. Any group who wants to hold a Pride celebration can do it, if they are willing to put in a lot of planning and do a little fundraising. Pride organizers across the state meet over Zoom for planning and support, and are so helpful!

To see pictures and learn more about Ellsworth PRIDE go to:

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