Acceptance, love, and equality was the message shared by those attending River Forest District 90’s Pride Walk, which was held on Thursday, June 1 in partnership with the River Forest community.
Attendees gathered at Village Hall, 400 Park Ave., to enjoy the flag raising. In attendance was Ken Johnson, River Forest trustee and co-chair of the village’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory group, who expressed the importance of the day and the efforts to create an inclusive community for everyone to feel accepted and safe.
“Diversity and gay pride are important because they represent the progress we have made as a society of recognizing and celebrating the rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Johnson. “We have come a long way in recognizing the rights of LGBTQ+ communities.”
Megan Keskitalo, PTO member who worked on developing the Pride Walk for Lincoln Elementary School, 511 Park Ave., led the cheering crowd in the flag raising, which was followed by the Pride Walk around the block, led by Principal Casey Godfrey.
“I am so proud to work in a community, in a district that is so inclusive of everyone,” Godfrey said. “To carry the flag and to represent our district and all of our kids was a special moment.”
While the event was to celebrate Pride, with the message of equality and inclusion, the walk reached out to broader communities in River Forest.
For Britt Gentile, of River Forest, who is on Lincoln’s Belongingness and Inclusion Committee, the event was a way to support and foster inclusion and acceptance for everyone.
“It was important for me to participate because I have sons who have disabilities and I just feel that there should be inclusion of all levels of all people,” Gentile said. “Whatever someone determines is their sexuality or their pronouns, they have every right in the world to do that and who are we to take that away.”
The walk ended at the Franklin playground where the celebration continued with free Kona Shaved Ice and music as River Forest kicked off Pride Month.