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Marchers, puppets express support for LGBTQ community in Superior

Prior to a School Board vote on gender identity curriculum, community members expressed their support for inclusion with a march.

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Flag bearers lead a march from the Superior School District administration office to Superior Middle School on Thursday, Aug. 25, in support of inclusion. Organizer Tiffany Mattson, a counselor at the high school, called it a peaceful march for "'all' means 'all'" in the district.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — With flags, signs and strollers, students, teachers and residents marched on Thursday, Aug. 25, in support of the LGBTQ community. Organizer Tiffany Mattson, a Superior High School counselor, said the walk was about inclusion.

The decision followed an hour and a half of public comment.

"A peaceful march for 'all' means 'all' in the Superior School District," she said, referencing the district's vision: "'All' means 'all' ... every student, every day."

The path led them from the Superior School District administrative offices to Superior Middle School, where the School Board held a special meeting on fifth grade gender identity curriculum later that evening. They were met with the occasional honk from passing motorists.

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Teachers, students and community members march along Tower Avenue in Superior on Thursday, Aug. 25, to show support for retaining gender identity curriculum at the fifth grade level.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Marchers walk the final stretch to Superior Middle School led by a peace flag, held by University of Wisconsin-Superior professor Haji Dokhanchi, front left, and retired educator Mary Smith-Johnson, front right.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Marchers supported keeping the curriculum at the fifth grade level.

"It's very important because it shows that we acknowledge that there's difference and we are teaching to provide the proper education and knowledge about identity and pronouns so there's acceptance for all kids," Mattson said.

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Jenn Dahlberg marched with her children, Jace, 7, and Cyler, 5, to raise awareness and to support their friends and family. "We're here because 'all' means 'all,'" Dahlberg said.

They were greeted at Superior Middle School by six larger-than-life puppets depicting famous LGBTQ individuals. The puppets were created by artist Mary Plaster.

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Kathy Hermes, front, leader of Together for Youth, a support group for LGBTQ youth and allies, adjusts the head of a larger than life puppet of Walt Whitman as, Mark and Sue Nash, background, from left, watch outside Superior Middle School on Thursday, Aug. 25. The Whitman puppet, made by Mary Plaster, was among six representing six puppets on display outside the school representing important LGBTQ individuals.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Puppets of David Bowie and Prince sit outside Superior Middle School on Thursday, Aug. 25.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

"I think she has 13 total puppets; this is just the queer contingent here," said Kathy Hermes with Together for Youth, a social support group for LGBTQ young people through Lutheran Social Service in Duluth.

The group included Frida Kahlo, David Bowie, Walt Whitman and Rachel Carson.

Hermes said she brought the puppets to Solon Springs last year when a similar curriculum concern was brought up. The puppets traveled to Virginia, Minnesota, last week and will be on display at the Duluth Superior Pride festival in Duluth.

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Puppets of Walt Whitman and Rachel Carson stand outside Superior Middle School on Thursday, Aug. 25, prior to a special board meeting on fifth grade gender identity curriculum.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Teachers, students and community members march past Superior Fire Department headquarters on Tower Avenue on Thursday, Aug. 25, to show support for retaining gender identity curriculum at the fifth grade level.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Marchers gather outside Superior Middle School prior to a Superior School Board meeting Thursday, Aug. 25. The group of roughly 50 marched from the Superior School District administrative office to the school to show support for the district's vision: "'All' means 'all' ... every student, every day."
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
Centered on Labor Day weekend, this year's festivities include a festival, a block party, a parade and more.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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As reported by Douglas County Circuit Court.