The day when the transgender anti-discrimination bill becomes law in Massachusetts is fast approaching. On this Saturday, October 1, gender identity (which, as it is defined in the law, essentially includes gender expression) will become a protected class with regards to public accommodations. Businesses may no longer legally refuse service, provide deliberately inferior service, advertise or publicize that they discriminate based on gender identity, lie in order to facilitate discrimination, or harass or intimidate people based on their gender identity. (Gallitano and Zules) Massachusetts thus becomes the 18th state to offer this level of protection to transgender and gender non-conforming people.
A final entry as Ally Week 2016 winds down.
It’s been an eventful ally week, to say the least. Not so much on campus as off. Lots of opportunities for allyship. Lots of people stepping up.
One positive example followed VOYA (“Voices Of Youth Advocates”) magazine’s unaccountably biphobic and heterosexist review of Kody Keplinger’s book Run. Actually, the review was what one Twitterer referred to as “a hot mess” with not only biphobia and heterosexism but also ableism, slut shaming… the epitome of the privileged and judgmental viewpoint that doesn’t even see its own privilege talking. It ended with the admonition that, because one of the characters is openly and unapologetically bisexual, the book might not be appropriate for all young adult audiences. If you’re going to give a content warning at all, many people pointed out, wouldn’t the actual (heterosexual) sex be the logical choice rather than a simple affirmation of one’s orientation?
by Andrea Tehan Carnes
While most of our students were off enjoying a hot leisurely summer all across the globe, nine ambitious students decided to try something new and sign up to train for and run a 15-mile trail race in the nearby town of Northfield, Mass. I got the idea in my head to do this race with our girls a little over a year ago while volunteering at the same race at the registration table, when a rival cross-country team checked in their students to do the race. I thought to myself, "If THEY can do it, so can we!" A little recruiting -- and, surprisingly, not a lot of persuading -- later, we had nine girls ready to go. We only needed eight to fill a team, but as this wasn't the first time I had captained a relay team, I knew there would inevitably be a few people dropping out for unforeseen reasons. It was good to have a backup plan.
I wrote this blog over the summer. Though not specifically about LGBT allyship, it seems to make sense to post it during Ally Week.
“Why do you shave your legs?”
The first time I was asked this, I was totally unprepared to answer it - in part because the question was totally unexpected in the moment and in part because, in our culture at any rate, it comes with undertones of “... because it’s out of the ordinary and there’s got to be some explanation and that explanation better be socially acceptable.”
In other words, my legs apparently Mean Something. The question is, what?
It’s GLSEN’s “Ally Week,” and they’ve been sharing some wonderful resources. A "Dear Ally” letter was so strong and so concise that I decided to share it with Kaya Kim, our student Head of Community Alliance, Willy Therrien, our Dean of Community Life, Shawn Durrett, our Dean of Faculty, and Tod Pleasant, our GSA advisor. Ms. Durrett said she thought it would be a good resource for her classes, and Willy shared a link to another GLSEN page, “Actions for Allies.”
“No. We’re not going to restart.” Much as I value resilience, and much as I value student voice, I couldn’t imagine what they were thinking. A group of 14 middle schoolers, on their annual bonding overnight trip to Camp Becket, were trying to get across a 20-foot “lava river” using only six rubber dots about 10” in diameter. They were only allowed to step on the dots. If any of the dots were left untouched, even for a moment, they melted away (meaning Edie, the Camp Becket staff person supervising the group, took it back). They had gotten maybe nine people over but had just lost their fourth dot, meaning they were down to only two. How could they ever get five middle schoolers across a 20-foot lava river with only two safety dots?!?!
In my earlier post about the first day of classes with my Humanities 7 class, I mentioned that Alex Bogel, Academic Dean and IB Coordinator, was going to replicate one of our activities with his Junior Theory of Knowledge (“TOK)” class. They would use the white board and chalkboard to brainstorm on “how people learn,” and then work in groups to discern the various themes running through each panel.
(a poem by Amelia Opsahl '21, written for Karen Suchenski's Humanities 8 class)
I am from dusty New York Times newspapers in a precarious stack, displaced shoes and the smell of fried eggs.
Inspired by our Convocation ceremony on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016
“Where do our individual templates and belief systems come from?” Shayna Appel ‘78 asked, pausing a moment during her invocation. In telling a personal anecdote of when she needed to grow further into her own best self, and did, she was inviting us both implicitly and explicitly to consider the question. As Head of School Sally Mixsell ‘69 would later say, all you know is what you see when you first meet a person - what is most important is unseen and undiscovered. And we have, as Shayna pointed out, the freedom to choose different judgments and opinions, to bring a more critical awareness of ourselves and our certainties. Student Council President Molly Li ‘17, in her discussion of what the Honor Code means to her, told us that when she first came here as an eighth grader, she had feared she would be judged here by her looks and by her English. However, she said, everyone was always kind and respectful to her. And Miles DeClue ‘18, in her own take on the ritual reading (and eventual signing) of the Honor Code, noted that it comes down to personal responsibility.
As Bill Ivey's blog posts focus on all the different ways different people find things in common, the web of connections we see and create, and a belief in the ideals of intersectional feminism, he has chosen to group future blog posts under the heading and using the tag "Intersections." We hope you enjoy them!
Over time, in an effort to ensure students have plenty of time to let ideas form and express them, I’ve become much more comfortable with long silences. (By the way, this has spilled over into the rest of my life - for example, my son and I have been known every so often to spend part of our phone calls just quietly connected.) After one such silence in my Humanities 7 class yesterday, I said, “Okay, so I guess that’s everything we have to say about that.” and one of the students commented, “I think we’re still a little shy and scared.”