MEDINA — The Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., on Sunday had a companion event on Public Square in Medina.
“I think there is a tendency to feel there are no lesbian and gay people in Medina,” said Sandy Varndell. “The thought is that they don’t exist here. That’s a false piece of information. There are many.”
A group Varndell formed in October 2013, OutSupport, held a rally and march on the Square to show solidarity with the national effort, she said. Varndell said the rally included raising awareness of concerns for bisexual and transgender individuals also. Her son, Ross, 23, is transgender. He held a megaphone as speakers talked to a crowd of about 100 on the Square.
Varndell noted that today marks the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting of 49 people killed and 58 wounded at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
“We want to advocate for nondiscrimination,” she said, noting that Ohio does not have laws protecting people from being denied housing and facing employment termination for their personal choices.
“There is much work to do to change laws,” she said. “We cannot and will not be silenced.”
Also making remarks were two Medina High School teachers — Jennifer Oehler and Boni Wozolek — who help with monthly meetings at a student group, Genders and Sexualities Alliance.
Wozolek said the group formed in 2010 is sanctioned by the school district and brings in speakers to hold discussions about sexuality and mental issues. Oehler is a language arts teacher and Wozolek teaches Spanish.
As cars drove around the Square, with an occasional horn honking in a show of support, Varndell said she has noted “several small successes” in the group’s awareness efforts.
One is having high school graduation ceremonies with students in “unicolor,” rather than separate gown colors for male and female graduates. “That was a reminder of how uncomfortable it was on what should have been a happy day,” she said, referring to her son Ross.
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