On Friday, Palmer High School students will gather in a courtyard to celebrate "unity, tolerance, and diversity." And though its Unity Fest is only an hour long — taking place over lunch break — It means a lot in light of the recent past.
Back in 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado took on Palmer High after it refused to recognize a gay/straight alliance club within the school. The ACLU describes the situation this way:
The ACLU filed suit on behalf of a group of students at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs who challenge the school's refusal to recognize their student club, the Palmer High Gay/Straight Alliance. The students started the club in January 2003, but school authorities have repeatedly refused to recognize it. Without recognition, the student group cannot meet on school property on the same terms as other student groups; cannot post club-related information at the school; cannot use the public address system to make announcements; and is omitted from the school's yearbook and official list of student-organized activities. Palmer High School had blocked earlier efforts to organize a similar student group in 1999. The lawsuit was resolved successfully in November 2005.
Nowadays, Palmer's alliance club is loud and proud — in fact it's one of the sponsors of Unity Fest, along with Palmer Live and the Student Council.
Perhaps most telling, Palmer's principal, Lara Disney, apparently sees the Unity Fest as a point of pride for the school as a whole. She's extended a special invitation to Wasson High School students — who will need to find a new school since theirs closes at the end of the school year — to join the party.