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Central Ohio suburbs celebrate inclusivity, acceptance during Pride month

Community leaders from Bexley to Grove City are bringing events for the whole family to celebrate inclusion and acceptance for all this Pride Month.

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio — Pride month is officially here and suburbs all throughout Columbus are gearing up to show support for all colors of the rainbow with events all month long.

Community leaders say students were the ones who started the movement in the suburbs.

"The students asked for all these different flags because they identified with all these different flags and they wanted to make sure people knew about all these different flags at our pride event,” said Kathy Adams, the first openly LGBTQ member of Upper Arlington City Council.

There were more than 1,000 people at last year’s first-ever event. An event that all started with students asking for support from the community.

"There were Instagram stories of Dear UA schools, Dear Bexley schools, where students anonymously told their stories of trauma that was happening to them,” said Adams.

The U.A. Support Facebook Group now has more than 700 members, connecting families and LGBTQ members with the resources they need.

“It's a changing city, it's become much more inclusive. It's not perfect, but we're working towards that every single day,” said Brian Hedge, Community Affairs Manager for the City of Upper Arlington.

Hedge said one of those changes includes a grant from the city to support UA Pride this year.

The City of Reynoldsburg is also sponsoring Upper Arlington’s pride event.

"When you've got a city behind you, I mean that right there in it of itself is something I think we can be proud of,” said Kristin Bryant, a member of Reynoldsburg City Council.

Hilliard Schools psychologist Joshua Stephens said it’s refreshing to see support in schools and is expecting large crowds once again at Rainbow Hilliard.

"And I think the best thing is that it's non-partisan and it's not political and it's just people coming to show that we support other human beings,” Stephens said.

For Hilliard City Council member Cynthia Vermillion, protecting the community is key -- which is why the city passed a non-discrimination ordinance to protect all residents after a reported hate crime in 2021.

“That was important to us because we feel strongly that everyone needs to be protected,” Vermillion said. 

Grove City will have its first-ever Pride event. 

“I just wanted inclusiveness in the community, especially in Grove City where it can be hard sometimes,” says Matt Miller, Co-Founder of Pride of GC.

Pride leaders say there’s still a long way to go, but bringing pride to the suburbs is a giant leap toward acceptance for all.

“When there is representation and visibility of kids that are gender non-conforming or trans or just gay or lesbian, it makes a world of difference,” said Larry LARRY Deatley-Ellison, Founder of Bexley Pride.

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