Among the thousands who march in the Boston Pride Parade with co-workers, candidates, or causes, one group has grown quickly from fewer than 15 just a couple of years ago into about 250 on Saturday.
Boston Public Schools officials began organizing educators, administrators, students, and parents across the district to march, thanks in part to the leadership of Danielle Murray, a math teacher at Another Course to College, a Hyde Park high school.
“We had done a lot of work in schools, and my [students] had marched, and we just really wanted to do something that was the whole district wide,” she said.
“I work with the Office of Equity,” Murray continued, “and I do a lot of support for LGBTQ families and children, and I thought this would be a great way to have families come to this . . . families that have young kids, and families that have LGBTQ members.”
Murray recalled the moment 19 years ago, when she was a 24-year-old teacher two weeks into her first school year, and a student asked if she was a lesbian.
It was a moment, she said, when she had to decide if she was going to live out her values.
“I was like, ‘Yep, I am.’ So she was like, ‘Let’s start a group,’ ” which led them to found a gay-straight alliance at Brighton High School, she said.
That was the beginning of Murray’s work making the city’s schools more inclusive and welcoming for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
“I want families, especially families with young kids, to see that they’re supported on every single level here,” she said.
Boston’s incoming superintendent of schools, Brenda Cassellius, attended the Pride Parade wearing a T-shirt from Minneapolis Pride, where she marched with Minnesota’s governor while working as the state’s education commissioner, she said.
“This is a great celebration of love and of everybody being themselves,” said Cassellius. “We are welcoming to all students. My daughter’s a lesbian, so it’s personal for me. I just believe that all children ought to be welcomed, and be able to express themselves, and be who they are, and love who they want to love. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
Among the most noticeable people in the group was Sasia Doman, a teacher’s aide at the McKinley School, who sported a rainbow wig and eye mask, a blue bodysuit and tutu, a pink fanny pack, and colorful leg warmers.
Doman said some of her students had discussed Pride at school and expressed a desire to have more adults support them in the parade.
“I told them, ‘Of course I’m going to come out and support you all, and I think it’s awesome our students are able to have a voice,’ ” she said.
She hinted to her students that she would wear something distinctive, she said, but she didn’t warn them just how elaborate her costume would be.
“I told them, ‘When you are looking for Ms. Doman, I definitely am going to be a spark.’ ”