Lebo Pride plants a tree at Mellon

Lexi Byrom, Mt. Lebanon High School senior and Lebo Pride member, addresses those attending tree planting ceremony at Mellon Middle School.

“We see you, we love you, we stand with you” was the theme of a tree planting ceremony outside Mellon Middle School on September 29. Lebo Pride, a grassroots organization bringing queer and gender diverse education and visibility to the larger Mt. Lebanon community through celebration, donated the Bracken’s Brown Beauty Magnolia tree and dedicated it to the students of Mt. Lebanon.

“Our June pride event featured an apple tree symbolizing the tree of knowledge in the middle of Clearview Common for people to hang banned books,” said Lebo Pride chair Asta Kill.

“With planting the tree, we wanted to ensure that there is continued visibility of support for the LGBTQ+ students in this community,” Kill said.

The inaugural Lebo Pride celebration was held on June 18.

Mt. Lebanon High School senior Lexi Byrom, 18, (from left), Asta Kill, president of Lebo Pride, Valerie Fleisher, vice-president of the Mt. Lebanon School Board, and Dr. Timothy J. Steinhauer, superintendent of the Mt. Lebanon School District gather around a “Bracken’s Brown Beauty Leaf Magnolia” during the Lebo Pride event– a tree planting ceremony in front of Mellon Middle School, Thursday, September 29, 2022. Lebo Pride is a grassroots organization bringing queer and gender diverse education and visibility to the Mt. Lebanon community.

“The students who attended felt seen, felt loved, felt valued, and felt that the community had their backs. That is the message on the plaque that Lebo Pride is dedicating today,” said school board vice president Valerie Fleisher, addressing the crowd assembled for the tree planting.

“We always knew that, as an organization, we wanted to expand our reach beyond just pride celebrations in June,” Lebo Pride board member Lexi Byrom said. “As a student of Mt. Lebanon myself, I know how important it is to see yourself represented, and the tree in front of Mellon will be a great reminder that we stand with the queer youth of Mt. Lebanon,” Byrom pointed out.

The tree planting ceremony wrapped up after Mt. Lebanon School Superintendent Dr. Timothy Steinhauer and the other speakers shoveled dirt onto the base of the tree.  A plaque placed next to the tree reads “Dedicated to the students of Mt. Lebanon from the inaugural Lebo Pride event.  We see you. We love you. We stand with you. June 18, 2022.”

Photos by John Schisler