Google wants people who can’t attend Pride Parades to do so virtually. And the result is an emotional one they might not ever forget.
Earlier this year their #prideforeveyone campaign made it possible for people to don the company’s inexpensive Google cardboard attachments from anywhere in the world to experience a Pride parade.
"Since then, we’ve distributed Google Cardboard and the virtual Pride experience to more than 20 groups and nonprofits, worldwide," said Editor of Google's Education Blog.
Today the blog released a story about founder of the Sergio Urrego Foundation, Alba Reyes, who uses the virtual reality glasses to bring the Pride Parade to students in Bogota, Colombia.
Her story begins with a recount of the premature death of her son who took his own life after being caught kissing another boy at school, “Unfortunately, neither I nor his friends were able to prevent the harassment and isolation he felt.”
School administrators bullied her son with daily physiological tests, constantly asking questions about his sexuality. His mother says he never told her about any of the harassment.
One day, after school, Sergio said goodbye to his friends online and took his own life. Since then, his mother has made it her goal through the Sergio Urrego Foundation to allow kids within Columbia to experience the power of a pride parade through Google virtual reality.
Urrego says that LGBT children feel more isolated than the rest of the population and it is through her workshops utilizing the virtual experience that people both gay and straight, can understand what it means to be empowered and inclusive.
"It's important that every boy and girl in Columbia see a Pride parade," she said in a YouTube video (see below) featuring her workshop. "This summer, we used Google Cardboard to give students in my workshops a way to experience Pride parades from across the globe. Most of these students have never seen a LGBTQ Pride parade. But with virtual reality, they can learn more about the global LGBT community, and feel supported by a global community that celebrates diversity.”
After the workshop viewing Urrego says many organizations such as Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies have taken notice and want more of them throughout the country.
“My fight is not just for my child,” said Urrego. “It’s for all children who have endured discrimination and bullying from their peers, teachers and community.”
You can see the emotional impact the virtual experience had on one group of students in Urrego's workshop in the video below.