NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — State and local officials gathered at Career High School in New Haven on Thursday to celebrate the start of Pride Month with students. This was the high school’s first Pride celebration.

Connecticut State Treasurer Erick Russell was honored with a Visibility Award for representing the LGBTQ+ community in New Haven and for his work as a mentor for youth nationwide.

“Visibility is incredibly important. While it may not seem like a big deal to many, for folks who often feel unseen, you never know the impact it is having on other people,” Russell said.

The event was organized by the school’s Gay Straight Alliance or GSA. Students involved in the organization say this was a great way to kick off the start of Pride Month.

“I feel really happy and feel especially proud that we’re doing this today because Career High School has never had an event like this,” sophomore Josh Burgess said.

Russell and other local leaders, including New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, spoke about the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community nationwide, such as the debate over transgender participation in sports. Career High School administrators say making kids feel safe and comfortable being themselves will improve their work in the classroom.

“The first part of being able to work with a student is knowing them and really being able to celebrate who they are,” Dr. Jonathan Berman, an administrative intern at the school, said. “We want them to know that we don’t see them, but we affirm who they are.”

The event also features student workshops and discussions.