When Gay-Straight Alliance members at McCormick Junior High School in Cheyenne, Wyo., were told they were no longer allowed to display Pride flags or other LGBT-themed items (including any and all rainbow-colored clothing, bracelets, and pins), 14-year-old Ashlynn Kercher was having none of it.
The young pansexual activist chose to fight back, speaking directly in front of the school board and an auditorium full of community members on why such a ban is harmful and discriminatory. Then after the board meeting, out of an act of rebellion and protest, Kercher died her hair rainbow.
"While speaking to the board, it was very nerve-racking and I was shaking," she says. "It was important that someone stood up and told the truth for all of the minority kids at my school."
Of course, this wasn't Kercher's first rodeo. In 2016, she wrote and delivered a speech to the mayor and city council about a discrimination ordinance that made it against the law to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation. It passed.
In April, superintendent Boyd Brown countered the students' claim, telling Wyoming Public Radiothat McKormick does not ban on rainbow flags. His statement contradicts over 20 GSA students who all confirm that faculty members told them Pride-themed items would no longer be allowed on campus, arguing that it was distracting and later equating it to Confederate flags and other White Supremacy literature that had been distributed at the school weeks prior. They were later taken down after Kaycee Cook, a substitute teacher and GSA cosponsor, reported it to the principal.
Kurcher remains courageous through it all.
"This year I have become more comfortable in who I am and how to celebrate it even in the face of adversity. I feel like I have helped kids who don't have the support I do at home, have a place at our school," she says, adding that we all need to encourage other kids like her to be the "best they can be, always lead with love, seek truth, and help others."