Students, teachers start gender-identity conversations

Speakers discussing gender and sexuality discussion on campus have visited the school in an effort to bring greater awareness to gender-identity issues. This comes after recordings of a number of students using homophobic slurs were discovered.

“I wanted to start this conversation because I think there has been so much silence on campus about transgender identities and issues,” Kim said.

Sophie Kim ’19 organized for transgender actor Shaan Dasani to speak in student class meetings May 3 about his personal self-identity and sexuality. Kim planned the meetings with the help of members of Gender Sexuality Awareness Club and P-10.

“Hearing transphobic, racist, homophobic, and other slurs on campus really hurts,” Kim said. “I wanted to talk about these issues instead of just hoping that they would go away.”

Kim worked with Dasani to plan how he would successfully talk to the student body about relevant and engaging topics. Dasani spoke about his experience growing up as transgender without having words to describe it and then welcomed questions from students.

“For people who don’t understand how someone can identify as gender-nonconforming or trans, in some way I get it because even as someone going through it I didn’t understand,” Dasani said.

He encouraged students let their peers speak and identify themselves how they are most comfortable and respect that decision.

“If we can just accept that other people have a different experience,” Dasani said. “I think if we start there then I think we are doing pretty good.”

Dasani plans to continue spreading his messages outside of the classroom.

“The more I am talking about it the more I am realizing how big the need is,” Dasani said.

Chemistry teacher Nate Cardin has also brought conversations about gender, self-identity and sexuality into the Sophomore Choices and Challenges classes.

“I kept hearing [from past students] that there was some sex-ed and some talk about identity, but there was not that much focus placed on the wide spectrum of gender identities and the wide spectrum of sexual identities,” Cardin said.

In his presentation, Cardin talked about his experience being gay as well as the many struggles and realities that gender and sexual identity bring. He explained the range of gender identity, sexuality and gender expression while emphasizing that every student falls somewhere on the spectrum.

“Part of this talk is me asking you to take care of one another,” Cardin said.

Kim said that she hopes an understanding among students will come from Dasani’s discussion and more proactive measures will be taken to ensure transgender and gender-nonconforming members of the school community feel comfortable and respected.

“I hope that people will stop and think about how they can be more supportive of others and further these conversations about our different identities,” Kim said.

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