Yesterday in housemeeting, two students and I talked about the recent GLSEN conference we had attended together. The kids were brilliant, speaking simply and directly about their experiences attending sessions on fashion and gender, being gender expansive, the film “The Year We Thought About Love” chronicling the development of a play by queer youth and their straight allies, and expressing one’s truths through poetry. In preparing for this moment, it suddenly occurred to me that National Coming Out Day is somewhere in mid-October (n.b. It's today, October 11). Was it randomly the same day as housemeeting?
Did not know it was #WorldTeachersDay until this morning. All respect to all teachers. I will be celebrating by... teaching. :-) (tweet by Bill Ivey)
So how have I been spending World Teachers Day?
Words in motion evoke change when spoken. - Jasmin Roberts
Because Thursday was Mountain Day, Rock Band had the night off, and that meant I was free to join EduColor’s 7:30 Twitter chat on engaging and supporting families of colour. Being white, this meant both an opportunity to chime in when I felt I genuinely had something worth adding, and an even greater opportunity to listen in and learn from voices of colour. I knew that if I retweeted every tweet I loved, I’d flood my timeline. So I found myself favoriting left and right so people would know I was listening and they were being heard.
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?
“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.
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.”
by Victoria Subritzky-Katz '17
Head of School, Faculty and students, lend me your ears, or more specifically, your minds.
For I want to open today and the rest of the year, with some contemplation. Though it's early, and I'm sure that this the last thing most of you want to hear, this is important. I want each of you to think about why you are here. Why did your family spend the resources to bring you here? A small all-girls school in, let's face it, the middle of nowhere Massachusetts. What is it that you want to gain from your high school experience? We only have one shot at high school, there are no do-overs, so this is something we really do need to think about. Your first response might be that you are here to get an education. You came here to get a good education, a good GPA so that you could get into a good college so that you can get a good job and then your real life can begin. But don't wait until then to start living and enjoying life. Don’t get lost in the vortex of academic pressure and stress. Don't let yourself get trapped in a mind set where the only thing you're trying to get out of your time here at SBS is a good GPA and some strong recommendation letters, because this place is so much more than that and it can give you so much more than that.