As part of the LGBTQ+ Human Rights Group, I was honoured to receive the International Student Award “in recognition of their contributions to the promotion of global citizenship and the development of international awareness in the community” from the Council of International Schools (CIS).
Why would the CIS award us? One event that particularly concerns us every year is the Rainbow Parade in Tokyo. It takes a lot of effort in planning and advertising. In our case, we signed up to the event via TELL -a counselling organization we work with- so that was easy, but we had to advertise and advocate for the parade which is a little more tricky. We created posters and messages in the daily. I personally gave a little speech in one of the DP assemblies. We kept talking about it, and why it is important to go to try to get more people coming. I think it worked.
As it turns out, the success we experienced in the parade – the number of people who showed up, the news coverage – became widely known. We were able to strongly advocate human rights (especially in regards to the LGBTQ community) to a wide audience in Tokyo with TELL. Because of our presence at the parade, students and teachers from other international schools saw this and started attempt organizing or forming their own LGBT support groups. Although not all schools allowed the existence of such clubs, we are now in contact with other international schools’ groups. This means we can organize activities and events outside of school to meet them…or organize an even bigger parade for more impact.
You might think: what is the point of a parade, just making loud noises? No. It is definitely more than that. People live their life usually by following their routines which doesn’t really make them think about things that are outside their life or simply irrelevant to them. When there is an issue, people will not want to or be able to fix it unless they know about it. Every time there is a parade (especially if it is large) this kindles conversations and discussions among families and the media which brings us one step closer to solving the issues and bettering someone’s life. This why we have parades and organizing them is not easy.