All people should be allowed to feel like they belong, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case but those involved in Pride Month and Pride Week are doing their best to raise awareness and help the rainbow community find a sense of belonging.
June was Pride Month and the week starting June 13 was Pride Week in local schools.
Taupō/Tūrangi charitable trust Anamata is one group making huge strides in the supporting the rainbow community.
Chairwoman Samantha Clement says this year, for Pride Week, Anamata supported local schools to host events for InsideOut's national school's pride week to celebrate rainbow staff and students and to create a sense of belonging in their school environment.
With feedback from young people about school environments, Anamata is launching a new rainbow advocacy group of young people to focus on the changes they would like to see in their schools.
"We believe it's important to do this mahi because as a minority population, rainbow young people face a heteronormative society and are often exposed to discrimination," Samantha says.
"They can face significant disparities in their mental health and wellbeing. Providing safe spaces is vital to building peer connections, positive adult relationships and support.
"Anamata acts as a voice for these young people, and we speak out to ensure their voices are heard and their rights are upheld. We advocate for schools and workplaces to be aware and inclusive of diversity."
Anamata youth lead Zoe Findlay says Pride Month and Pride Week are a crucial part of raising awareness and understanding.
"It's really important to celebrate rainbow people and rainbow young people, and to help give them a place of belonging and so they feel accepted and welcomed in any space, but especially for young people in the school environment.
"Just being able to raise awareness for other students and staff, using it as a space to educate other members of the school environment, that's really important."
Progress has been made in recent years. Zoe says when they were at school about 10 years ago, concepts like Pride Week or Pride Month were "non-existent".
"There actually is an awareness and knowledge that rainbow people exist. When I was at school that wasn't a thing, I didn't know anyone that was openly rainbow or queer or gay. It was super hard, lonely and hard to accept it yourself because you have no one you can see who is rainbow and living their life."
She says being involved in the schools' Pride Week in the Taupō District, seeing rainbow people gain confidence and others gain knowledge, was rewarding.
"For me, as a queer person, it's really important and rewarding to do this mahi to support rainbow young people and try to be a role model for them. We want to keep increasing the equality in any environments they are in and diminish any barriers they face. Overall, just making their experiences more enjoyable, safe and exclusive.
"Pride Week was awesome, the high schools got on board and we had some great activities. The teaching staff were really on board.
"I think there is always a juggle, and schools are becoming more receptive. They're keen to do what they can, there's always room for improvement but it's definitely improving."
One of many highlights of the week for Zoe was seeing all of Reporoa College get behind a rainbow activity session.
"They decorated rainbow-themed cupcakes, they had a rainbow photo booth, it was a rainbow mufti day. It was cool to have the whole school engaged in some fun activities with some purpose behind it. The whole school was really engaged."
• Anamata is on the hunt for a chief executive, someone with a mix of knowledge of wellbeing for NZ Youth and not for profit organisation leadership. If this sounds like you, head to www.anamata.org.nz/chief-executive-wanted/ for more information.