Approximately 100 students staged a walkout at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket on March 1 in protest of its decision to introduce multi-colored, gender-neutral graduation gowns at its upcoming commencement ceremony this June. Traditionally, girls wear gold gowns and boys don green. The school’s new graduation gowns are universally green, with the high school’s emblem emblazoned on a gold stole.
On June 26, 2015 that long struggle paid off. That’s the day the U.S. Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.
There was a palpable feeling Monday that the massacre—the largest mass shooting in U.S. history and biggest terror attack since 9/11—was deeply personal, that any of those grieving could have very well been a victim of a madman’s apparent homophobic assault on a gay nightclub, one of the few public venues where the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community feel safe from persecution or physical attacks.
Long Island's LGBT community remained defiant in the wake of the largest mass killing in U.S. history, marching in an act of solidarity with victims and their families through Sayville and refusing to cower in the face of bigotry. More than 300 members and supporters of the local LGBT community showed unity with victims and their families, taking their defiance of fear and prejudice to the streets of Sayville in a "Visibility Walk" Sunday afternoon, carrying signs, pride flags and wearing rainbow-colored sashes.
The Obama administration on Friday issued a directive to all public schools in the nation proclaiming that transgender students must be allowed to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. On Long Island, the White House’s directive, which also includes school locker rooms, was dubbed a “huge victory” by one of the leading gay and transgender rights groups in the region.
“It’s not going to deter me or us from doing what we need to do."