#8: Opening up a world of possibilities…

Here is a link to my slide-show.

  1. I want schools to be a safe and inclusive environment for students of all gender identities.
  2. I will be targeting administrators and teachers so that can work independently within their schools to create change.
  3. On a scale from 1-10, I would be at as close to a 10 as I can be without it completely taking over my life. I am very interested and invested in this project as impacts many people close to me, and I am still working on ideas from last year.

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. But imagine if everyone felt completely safe and accepted in schools, in their day to day lives. Imagine how much better the learning environment would be, and simply the quality of everyone lives, the people you pass in the hall, your classmates, your friends, you.

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 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. To achieve all this we plan on meeting with teachers and administrators in schools across the state, and providing knowledge and resources including physical pamphlets and the resources that are on our website.

Picture by Finn Hackshaw

 

Fiona Nelson

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