Throughout the month of July, we will be sharing the inspiring essays from our Spirit of Dru Scholarship recipients. Please enjoy Courtney Ring's - she will be attending the University of Central Florida (UCF) this fall.
Over the past four years, I’ve been very involved as an activist in the LGBT+ community. I created a panel of LGBT+ guests to speak and preform at my public library in an event called “The ABC’s of the LGBT” and when the library pushed back, I petitioned to continue the event, and was successful. I then suggested we read an LGBT book for our summer book club. We chose If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, a book written and featuring a trans girl. At my school, I founded a Gay-Straight Alliance, which was disbanded three years before. I held the position of president, and lead participation in the Orlando Come Out with Pride Parade, our school’s Homecoming parade, a spirit night fundraiser that raised $700 for the club, Ally Week at the school, and an educational Family Night. The Family Night, which included LGBT+ information for families, food, decorations made by the club, and a panel of guests from PFLAG and the Zebra Coalition was the first event of its kind in the Seminole County School System. While President of GSA I also represented the club at the Human Rights Campaign Time to Thrive Conference, where I met the leaders of the Central Florida GSA Network. Soon after, the club was inducted into the Network. I myself am now the Network Editor and leader for District 4 in the Central Florida GSA Network and will continue to work closely with the Zebra Coalition in the future.
I’m very proud of my work at my school, which I have seen bring people together, show young queer kids that they have allies in their schools, and spread awareness of acceptance within the school system. Though I’m graduating this year, I’ve worked with my club to plan future activities, including a co-created Open Prom, a dance dedicated to LGBT+ students in the community to have a safe prom experience, with a GSA at our sister high school, as well as a book drive over the summer and into the next academic year to find diverse books for elementary schools, middle schools, and the city’s public library.
I’m so happy I’ve gotten the chance to do impactful work in my community. Creating public events for allies to learn about the LGBT community are very important, and I would like to continue those events in the future. I have also seen my work effect those who struggle as an LGBT+ individual, whether from bullying, hate messages, or acceptance at home. Working with an organization like the Zebra Coalition allows me to reach out to other areas and LGBT+ kids who need support.