Most people think of summer vacation as a time to relax and get away from the pressures of work and school, but not Linus Pauling Middle School eighth grader Carson Lommers. During June, she saw Pride Month as an opportunity to mobilize her community for LGBTQ+ equality.

Carson is no stranger to organizing for a cause. Already, she’s worked with two classmates to form her middle school’s first ever LGBTQ+ committee. Their goal? To help educate their school on what it means to be part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Carson says they were inspired to form the committee after joining the group WEB – Where Everyone Belongs – at her school. The school’s administration was supportive of the LGBTQ+ committee, and she says it will continue next year after Carson moves on to Corvallis High School.

This summer, Carson decided that there was even more she could do to empower the LGBTQ+ community – so she organized a Pride Rally in Corvallis’s Central Park on June 3, raising over $130 for Basic Rights Oregon.

Not only did Carson need to secure permits and arrange food and music, she also created a plan to fund the event. She and her fellow committee members created LGBTQ+ Supporter Pins to sell, which quickly became a hit.

More than 110 people attended the committee’s Pride Rally, which Carson and her friends publicized through posters, social media and around their school. Carson, who identifies as bisexual, estimates that about 60 percent of the attendees were LGBTQ community members, while the rest were allies and family members.

The rally benefitted both Basic Rights Oregon and the HRC, and featured tables for the Oregon State University Pride Center and Active Minds, an OSU group that promotes open conversations on the subject of mental health.

“Carson is a pretty amazing young woman, who can really rally a crowd,” says her mom, Jennifer Lommers. “She makes me very proud.”

Carson says she wants to stay involved in politics as she gets older, and it seems she’s off to a great start.

In a letter to Basic Rights Oregon, Carson wrote, “We really admire all you do for our beautiful state of Oregon. We hope this donation from the people of Corvallis helps you keep doing what you do. Thank you for always standing up for the LGBTQ+ community. You’re an inspiration to the whole committee and many others.”

We’re inspired by Carson, and her friends, who are working to create a fairer, more equal state for all of us. We couldn’t have achieved all the progress we’ve made here in Oregon without the efforts of our incredible volunteers and supporters. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Carson – we promise we won’t stop fighting for equality for all LGBTQ Oregonians.