#7: There’s still an issue

You probably worry about certain things at school. That important test you forgot to study for, or what the cafeteria is serving today. However for some, there are bigger issues, issues that have arisen solely because of their gender identity. The fear that people won’t take you seriously, or being forced into a locker room that doesn’t fit who you are. A teacher sending girls to one side of the room and boys to the other, while you try and decide where to go. Or maybe there are things like gender neutral bathrooms, but it’s on the other side of the school and you don’t have enough time to get to it between classes. That is why this is important, so people don’t have to go through their everyday lives constantly being questioned and teased, with reminders of how far we have to go all around them.

Having to live your life in secret or while being attacked, is one of the worst things you can do to anyone, and it will make them miserable. There are schools that are making amazing progress, where the issues are either no longer there or actively being taken care of. There are also schools that want to change, but simply don’t know how. The numbers are there, and you can’t deny that there is an issue. 30% of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month, according the the GLSEN 2013 National School Climate Study, and higher levels of discrimination can lead to lower self esteem, a lower GPA, and even a smaller chance that the student plans on going to college. Outright VT has been doing wonderful work both providing a safe space for youth, and educating schools. As Dana, the Director of Education at Outright, said: “[The statistics] Really paints a picture of people that are falling though the cracks and that aren’t being held. There’s a huge sense of isolation and a lack of belonging and those are basic things that we all deserve.”

So, why should you care? Good question. The people affected may not be you, but it could be your classmates, the people you sit with at lunch, your close friends, or even people you’ve never met but who deserve equality all the same. You may not be helping the majority of the population, but you could change peoples everyday lives as it becomes normal to ask for pronouns, normal to have gender neutral bathrooms easily accessible, as gender binaries stop holding such a large part in our society, as it becomes normal to be seen and supported by peers and teachers alike. It doesn’t take changing your life to change lives.

 

Photo by Jordan Whitfield

 

“2013 National School Climate Survey.” GLSEN. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.

Breaking Binary Full Movie. Prod. Eva Rocheleau. YouTube. YouTube, 12 Apr. 2016. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.

Fiona Nelson

One Response to “#7: There’s still an issue

  • This cultural landslide toward equity for people of all different gender identities is the story of the decade if not the last half-century. The news that broke yesterday, that the Supreme Court will take up the lower court cases involving gender identity as it pertains to bathroom use is an example of this making its way to the highest decision makers in our land: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/us/politics/supreme-court-to-rule-in-transgender-access-case.html

    I’m still waiting to hear from you, and see, a 300 word (or so) letter to principals to offer to be a conversation starter for their faculty. What’s in it for them? Why should they make time and what are the stakes. What can you clearly and concisely offer?

    Good luck and we plan to have a team of adults sit down specifically with you and Eva during our overnight retreat to really push you two forward in concrete and meaningful ways.

    -Tim

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