The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

The official student newspaper of Oak Park and River Forest High School

The Trapeze

    Senior wins award for supporting LGBTQ+ youth

    Emma Costello-Wollwage won the Girl Scout Gold Award by taking a journey to her past, staying in the present and pondering the future. 

    Costello-Wollwage, a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School, has been a member of Girl Scouts since she was about 6 years old. She set a goal to win the Gold Award, given to a Girl Scout member who makes an impact on their community based on an issue that they’re passionate about, according to the website Girl Scouts of the USA. For Costello-Wollwage, that issue is sex education for individuals who are queer.  

    Costello-Wollwage’s specific passion for sex-ed was because of “the red state book bannings, ‘don’t say gay’ laws, transgender laws and people’s opinions towards pronouns,” she said, referring to a series of anti-LGBTQ+ laws and issues that have dominated headlines in recent years. These issues inspired her to figure out how to make an impact on the community around her. 

    In her process she took a walk to her past by going to her old middle school. “My target was really to reach queer kids in a personal way, not just like over the screen, not just over a website,” Costello-Wollwage said.  

    In late May of 2023 she worked with a group of middle school students at Julian Middle School who are a part of the Rainbow Tribe. The Rainbow Tribe is a group of kids who are a part of the queer community. Costello-Wollwage described this group as a resource that supports LGBTQ+ students through exercises to celebrate their identity and class discussions about their community.

    Ashley Kannan is a history teacher at Julian Middle School and the leader of the Rainbow Tribe. Kannan was Costello-Wollwage’s teacher at Julian, and he was the leader of the group while she was a part of the Rainbow Tribe as a student. 

    Kannan wanted to help and was on board with her plan of making an impact on these students. “Being able to talk about this topic to a group of middle school students while profoundly impacting them in the process is a significant accomplishment,” Kannan said. 

    Costello-Wollwage said that people in the community of Oak Park are fortunate to be able to be open about who they are. She explained Oak Park as a “bubble” because acceptance in other places may not be as common. For example, the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank, reports that seven states have a law that “explicitly censors discussions of LGBTQ people or issues throughout all school curricula.”

     “These people are being denied full education about themselves, the world and their place in it,” said Kannan. “Emma will make an impact because her work changes lives for the better.” 

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover

    Comments (0)

    All The Trapeze Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *