Federation shows its colours at Mardi Gras

An estimated 500,000 spectators lined the footpaths, rooftops and balconies of Oxford Street to cheer on more than 12,500 marchers celebrating Sydney’s LGBTIQ communities on Saturday, 2 March.

Federation joined more than 200 floats on the parade route under the theme “Fearless”, an acknowledgment of the way LGBTIQ people around the world express who they are.

Mardi Gras organisers reported that the theme “Fearless” was taken up as a call to action by many of the floats in the parade, calling on the LGBTIQ community to be strong, live brave, be proud and celebrate fearlessly.

Federation’s float “Angels of Education” featured members in rainbow wings who danced their way along the parade route to show our support for LGBTIQ teachers, students and their families.

The float sought to send the message that teachers seek to make a positive difference in the lives of all. Teachers play a large part in instilling societal values in children and, as such, aim to create environments where difference is valued and equality is promoted.

The public education system is the only education system that doesn’t discriminate against LGBTIQ teachers, students and families, catering to all. Teachers in the public education system are agents of change; the lessons we teach children enable them to go out into the world to make a positive change, one that will create a brighter future for LGBTIQ students and their communities.

First time attendee Chris Roberts said: “Participating in the event was an empowering experience. In being visible we reaffirm our strength, courage, pride and unity, particularly for our LGBTQI students.”

This sentiment was echoed by other participants who found the experience of marching uplifting and inspiring.

A number of Federation members volunteered their time to create the rainbow wings at weekend workshops leading up to Mardi Gras. The workshops provided an opportunity to not only create outfits for Federation’s float but also for members to make connections.

Members involved in the parade and workshops are members of the LGBTIQ Special Interest Group (SIG), a group mainly linked via email but meets once a term in Sydney.

Anyone with an interest in LGBTIQ matters and education can join the SIG by emailing [email protected]. LGBTIQ SIG members have the first opportunity to be included in Mardi Gras events, with opportunities extended to other members of Federation if positions are still available.

Regional parades
Members of the Wagga Wagga Teachers Association and their families marched in Wagga Wagga’s first mardi gras parade on 9 March.
Teachers belonging to Hay Teachers Association marched proudly in their town’s mardi gras parade on 30 March.

Mel Smith is the officer attached to the LGBTIQ Special Interest Group