FAM’s 2023 Inclusive Schools Rally Celebrates Queer Joy and Expression


By Edie Raines, Copy Editor


Friends, Allies, and Mentors of the LGBTQ+ Community, an organization that is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ students, educators and families in the school setting, hosted their annual Inclusive Schools Rally on May 18. Queer individuals and allies alike gathered to celebrate queer joy and queer education.

Allow Yourself to Feel and Embody Joy

FAM opened the rally with Cheer Salt Lake, a trans-founded adult cheerleading team that raises funds for LGBTQ-related causes. Cheer Salt Lake led the crowd in a series of cheers which, rather fittingly, sounded much more like protest chants than excited hurrahs. Students and teachers chanted “queer kids matter” and “we want safe schools” as cheerleaders with shiny blue pom-poms posed and clapped. It emphasized how much this event was half a celebration of queer art, half a recognition that the current climate for queer students in Utah schools is rapidly deteriorating.

The queer cheers were followed by an hour of poetry, speeches, dance routines and even two-minute dance breaks between a few performances. A line of students, some as young as elementary school, read a list of rights queer students should be guaranteed and 2021 Inclusive Teacher of the Year winner John Arthur announced this year’s nominee.

‘Instead of Promoting Fear, I want to Promote Pride’

Nikolas Lawvor, a 14-year-old queer student, spoke on his experience within the not-so-inclusive Utah school system.

“I do not fear my body, I do not fear my identity,” he said. “The thing that I fear is the people that do.” Lawvor spoke on the sometimes terrifying experience of being trans in the public school system but insisted that “instead of promoting fear, I want to promote pride. I believe that empathy is the key to equality.”

Another student was scheduled to speak but they decided to cancel last minute after an email was sent around school. This email included their full name and discouraged them from attending out of fear of what might happen if they told their story. 

When I was in high school I was president of my predominantly conservative school’s Gay Straight Alliance. This often brought me weird stares and occasionally made me the subject of ridicule. Some of my most cherished memories from that time are of the wonderful teachers (typically and specifically English teachers) that allowed their classrooms to become the one safe space queer students would know they were welcomed.


Following this year’s legislative session, which included several bills targeting trans children in and out of school, this event was such a fun way to address those issues while also recognizing the incredible impact queer and queer ally teachers can have on someone growing up queer.

With the Utah Pride Festival coming fast on June 1—4, now is the time to reach out to the LGBTQ+ individuals in your life and support them both personally and politically. FAM regularly hosts LGBTQ+ events and socials, and anyone needing support can reach out to organizations like Encircle and the Utah Pride Center for counseling, group therapy and friendship circles.


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Editor’s note • Nov. 21, 1:30 p.m. — This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Nikolas Lawvor’s name.