“If your kid wants to be a unicorn, let them be a unicorn,” said 8th grader Belle Pitcher at the Essex Westford School District (EWSD) Board Meeting on Tuesday, May 14.
This marks the second year in which Westford students, Pitcher and Rosie Whitney, have petitioned the Board to raise the Pride Flag. The Board also discussed preliminary updates to student transportation for the 2019-2020 school year, involving a new bus route through the Village, as well as a proposal for new senior privileges.
When time came to present to the Board, Pitcher jogged up to chairwoman Martha Heath to take an outstretched microphone before re-taking her seat next to Whitney. “Did you miss me?” she joked to the Board, as this Tuesday is the second time Pitcher and Whitney have sat before the EWSD Board to argue their case. As rising high school freshmen, it may be their last year.
The two students argued that flying the Pride flag would open up a conversation about diversity and raise awareness in students of all ages.
Pitcher described her own struggle to come out of the closet – “It took me longer that it should have,” she said. “If I had had this kind of awareness and sense of acceptance that flying the flag provides, coming out might not have been so hard.” Pitcher sports a buzz cut and track pants, and speaks in a confident, yet sincere tone.
“Kids should be able to express themselves, especially younger kids,” argued Whitney, who sat cross-legged in her chair, a pair of birkenstocks underneath. The goal is to raise awareness and make kids feel accepted. In a letter to the Board, Pitcher and Whitney wrote, “It is important for everyone to be educated in accepting the diversity of the community for growing your heart and expanding your knowledge would lead to a better future for everyone.”
Before calling for a vote, Chairwoman Heath said that the students are “great examples of working towards what we as a district are working towards–to make every student feel welcome.” The board voted unanimously to raise the Pride flag through the end of the school year, which was followed by a round of applause, led by Pitcher’s father who sat in the back of the room.