The incident Feb. 26 at Morse High School — where a student brutally attacked another student because he was gay — highlights the need that we as a community move forward in the fight for inclusiveness. Our youth still face enormous challenges — even in our area — surrounding issues of orientation and gender identity.

According to the National School Climate Survey conducted by GLSEN in 2011, “Eighty-two percent of LGBT youth had problems during the previous year with bullying about sexual orientation,” while 64 percent and 44 percent felt unsafe at school due to sexual orientation or gender identity, respectively. Suicide rates are as much as eight times higher with the LGBT youth than other youth.

We cannot and must not stand back and ask them to handle it themselves. Often the bullying that goes on seems overlooked — in some cases even considered “asked for” because our LGBT youth do not “conform — due to the heterosexism and homophobia that is left unaddressed in the adult population of our communities.

It is our responsibility to reach out to these young people in their endeavor to change attitudes for the better. One way we can do this is to support their activities. One such event that is coming up is the San Diego “high school Pride,” taking place May 23, from 4 — 8:30 p.m., at Otay Ranch High School’s football field. High school students from around the county who show their student identification enter free. All others pay $4. Organized by students at San Diego’s High Tech High School, their mission is to bring unity, support, connectivity, and PRIDE to young people of San Diego’s LGBT community. Let them know you will be attending by visiting sandiegohighschoolpride.weebly.com.

As for South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival this Sept. 12, we have some exciting events to share. This week we opened up the application process to our artisans. As part of the continued support of the immense creativity of our community, South Bay Pride has lowered the price of a 10-by-10-foot space for artisans to $75. These booths will be on display from noon – 6 p.m. during the day of the festival. We are striving for 100 booths dedicated to handcrafted art and we want to highlight the talents of our youth artists from the local high schools and colleges.

This will be the fifth year that we have worked to expand the art component of this festival and the board is looking forward to making this a must-see for all that enjoy the amazing creativity and talent that surrounds us.

We are still recruiting people to assist for the planning stages. In particular, if you are good at WordPress and would like to help Sister Ida with the reorganization of the SouthBayPride.org website, send us an email at SouthBayAlliance@gmail.com.

In addition, we should open up the application process for bands, volunteers and vendor/exhibitors by April 1.

As always, South Bay Alliance is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that runs entirely on our donations and community support. Every little bit helps to keep this going and all donations are tax deductible. Please take a moment and donate what you can by visiting the SouthBayPride.org website and clicking donate. Corporate sponsors interested in supporting South Bay Pride should check out our partnership information on the website, or contact Joe Burke at jburke@southbaypride.org for this exciting way to reach out to the LGBT community and their allies with its diversity and incredible loyalty to those that support equality for all.

I hope to see everyone at the San Diego “high school Pride” on May 23, showing your support to our LGBT youth.

— Dae Elliott is a founding executive committee member and the current executive director of South Bay Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit and organizer of the annual South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival. Contact her at southbayalliance@gmail.com.