On Saturday, January 19, eight members of the Stoneleigh-Burnham community attended a diversity conference, 'Everybody, Everybody': Reimagining Gender and Sexuality in Our Schools," hosted by Vermont Academy. Our group, or “pod” in the terminology of the Dalton Conference model, represented a past and present cross section of students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, alums, and trustees.
This page is meant to represent current thinking on the fundamentals of how we see gender and sexuality based on the writings of experts and the reported lived experiences of people of a diversity of gender and sexuality.
Most recent update: 25 January, 2019
Okay, I’m just going to say it, controversial or not.
I use a Gillette razor. Always have, and still do.
Whew. Glad to get that off my chest.
Recently, I got called out on Twitter. It used to be, like many (most?) of us, that being told I was causing offense, being racist, and/or hindering the work for social justice would lead me to break out in a panicky sweat, want to figuratively or even literally run away, and/or passionately defend myself as “a good person.” By now, though, it’s happened often enough that I’ve learned to view it positively as someone caring enough to engage with me, to challenge me to do better in their eyes (granting that this is easier to process via social media than in the immediacy of face-to-face conversations). And I’ve learned that at such moments, their eyes are generally seeing things I would otherwise miss and that I really need to know. Trying to remain open to being called out, whether on Twitter, in person, or wherever, has enabled me to learn and grow more quickly and more surely than I otherwise would have been able to - in short, to be a better ally.
As much as I love the warmth, sunlight, and pace of the summer, there is something about this time of year that also appeals to me. Part of it is that sense of resilience you get for toughing it out during a New England winter; part of it is the contrast of the darkness with starlight, moonlight, and the brightness of hats, mittens, and scarves; and part of it is the protectiveness of the darkness itself. As the light retreats and the world seems to close in on itself, introspection comes naturally, even if you are all about daily learning and growth, and whether or not you are of a mind to actually make resolutions
Of course there was a point on the ride out to Boston where the kids were singing show tunes. How could there not be?! Singing “We raise a glass...” from “La Vie Bohème” at the top of their lungs, they all clinked their Dunkin’ Donut cups, their faces lit up by smiles.
It was a sunny morning in the early spring of 2017, and I woke up in a pretty good mood. The weather was decent, most of my clothes were still clean, I wasn't driving kids to community service, and we weren't expecting any visitors, so all in all it was one of those days when I could wear more or less anything I wanted to. I chose an Oxford shirt, a black sweater (to complement my nail polish), and my favourite purple and blue skirt.
During advisory lunch on Monday, one of my eighth grade advisees asked why people might not want to arm teachers. The conversation quickly shifted to our school’s policies around lockdowns and other policies meant to help keep kids safe, so we ran out of time before her question was really answered. I told her I hadn’t forgotten the original question, and said maybe we could talk on Wednesday.
Every day, when I walk into my classroom, I’m thinking “Who are these kids, what do they need in general, and what does it look like they need today?” To my thinking, good pedagogy is quite simply that which enables me to know the answers to those questions and fulfill those needs.
I remember the air of celebration surrounding the first GLSEN Massachusetts student-educator conference I ever attended, some years ago now. I got the sense that here was a place where LGBTQ+ kids could - however temporarily - feel safe enough to burst forth from the closet. This year, that same sense of being accepted as one’s exact authentic self persisted, but in a calmer, more matter-of-fact way. This year’s conference theme, “Undone - Undoing - Still,” undoubtedly played a role in that. And in her welcome speech, Board member Trenda Loftin further expressed the mood of the conference, quoting activist Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”