Around the UFT

New York City Pride March

Feeling acceptance and love

The UFT Pride puppets were a hit with the crowd.Erica BergerThe UFT Pride puppets were a hit with the crowd.

Members on the UFT float get into the spirit.Erica BergerMembers on the UFT float get into the spirit. Adriana Cortez and Jason Pensiero of PS 72 in East Harlem show their pride.Erica BergerAdriana Cortez and Jason Pensiero of PS 72 in East Harlem show their pride. About 200 UFT members joined the Pride March down Fifth Avenue on June 25 to show their support for LGBTQ equality. “There was a feeling of acceptance and love everywhere you went,” said Amy Bernstein, a speech therapist and chapter leader at PS 272 in Canarsie, Brooklyn. “Everyone was happy and smiling, and it felt like everyone was together and on the same page,” she said. The annual march was first held in 1970 to commemorate the previous year’s Stonewall riots, which launched the modern movement for LGBTQ civil rights. Revelers waved rainbow flags and wore T-shirts proclaiming “We are proud” as they danced on the UFT float and marched to Greenwich Village. Latrice Curry, the chapter leader at MS 35 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, agreed with Bernstein. “I loved the energy of the UFT — especially the blow-up floats,” she said. “I have family members and friends who are gay and bisexual,” said the first-time Pride marcher. Joining the event “let my family members know, and my friends know, I have their backs.” Curry said she brought her daughters because she teaches them to judge others “on their character; not their sexuality or color. People should be able to live their authentic lives without fear of retribution.” The UFT contingent was organized by the union’s new PRIDE Committee. UFT Member Representative Rashad Brown, the committee co-chair, along with Guidance Counselors Chapter Leader Rosemarie Thompson, said the group formed in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida — the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest act of violence against LGBTQ people in modern United States history. The 2016 shooting, which killed 49 and wounded more than 50, galvanized UFT members. “We had a memorial reception in response to the Pulse incident,” said Brown. “We had a huge turnout.” That outpouring held a lesson, according to Brown: “These people are interested in these types of issues; we need to do something about that.” The UFT’s PRIDE Committee, which will have its public launch in September, will work to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and educate LGBTQ people about their rights.

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