Gay-Straight Alliance marches in Atlanta Pride Parade


Ellie Winer

Isiah Ramsby and Gabrielle Merit, co-leaders of the GSA, hug as the parade marches on behind them. “This is my first Pride, and I’ve never felt so open about myself and comfortable, ” Merit said. “It’s so loving and the environment is really nice.”

Stella Mackler

Gay-Straight Alliance members helped represent Atlanta Pubic Schools in the this year’s Atlanta Pride Festival, and marching alongside more than 320 other groups and organizations in the event’s annual parade. 

The school system initially reached out to GSA co-advisor and orchestra teacher Krissi Davis to invite the group to march with district representatives.  Davis then reached out to junior Isaiah Ramsby, co-leader of the GSA, about the invitation. Part of Ramsby’s role as co-leader is to make key decisions for the group, such as agreeing to march at Pride, which took place Oct. 11-13 at the start of Fall Break.

“I was told by Ms. Davis that we would be able to be in the parade,” Ramsby said. “We all ended up going together to the pride festival and marched in the parade with APS. I wanted to have my GSA group in the parade to show how in high school, you can be gay and you can be open, and you can be happy about it.”

Giving students the opportunity to march in the parade gave LGBTQ students across Atlanta the chance to feel represented in the greater community.

“Its very important that APS and Grady are here [at pride],” junior Gabrielle Merit said. “It shows other students at schools that don’t have GSAs that there are people out there that care about them and love them.” 

The APS’s presence at Pride helps some students, like senior Maddie Thorpe, feel more accepted in their school and community. 

“There are so many queer students in APS, and it’s just so important that the school system recognizes us and we feel accepted in school,” Thorpe said. “That’s where we spend most of our time, you know, so we need to feel accepted there.”

Senior Zoe Franklin says that by representing APS at Pride, she has the opportunity to push for even more recognition of LGBTQ students.

“It shows that there are gay teenagers and they need to be represented,” Franklin said. “To have APS support us like that helps move education towards more support for gay teens and gay children.”

An APS presence at Pride is nothing new. The No Place For Hate group has marched in the parade in the past. Additionally, the festival’s location at Piedmont Park means there is usually a large amount of both Grady faculty and staff in attendance. This includes GSA co-advisor and AP Human Geography teacher Christopher Wharton, who has attended Pride in the past. 

“I think it is important to be out there to feel connected to the wonderful community in Atlanta,” Wharton said. “The feeling of being cheered on as you march in the parade is amazing.”

Wharton’s position as an APS employee gives him the opportunity to offer guidance, advice, and help create a safe space within the school system. 

“I think it is important for the city and especially for the students to see that APS stands up for all students,” Wharton said. “This includes LGBTQI+ students that are often the target of bullying and can feel lonely and isolated in many schools and communities. It sends a message that these students are wanted and valued in APS.”