Pollyanna Conference members discuss sexuality, gender norms

Caroline Jacoby

Upper school faculty members attended the third annual Pollyanna Conference at the Middle School Nov. 2. In accordance with this year’s theme, “Everybody, Everybody: Reimagining Gender and Sexual Orientation in Our Schools,” representatives from 15 schools around the country discussed diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as how to become more welcoming toward members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“[This year’s topic is] a pretty big theme of LGBTQ+ and gender topics,” event organizer, science teacher and Upper School Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Nate Cardin said. “That seems very broad of a topic, and that’s a little bit intentional because where Harvard-Westlake is [in relation] to a lot of those topics could be very different than where other schools are at. We want to bring all these different schools in and say, ‘no matter where you’re at on the topic, here’s a day to kind of think about it and hear from other people and see how you can move yourself forward.’”

Keynote speaker discusses gender identity and sexuality

The event commenced with a presentation from keynote speaker Rodney Glasgow, Head of Middle School and Chief Diversity Officer at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Glasgow shared his experiences with his gender identity and sexual orientation, beginning a conversation on intersectionality.

Afterwards, attendees met in smaller pods to discuss the topics in more depth.

“It was an amazing practice to set a safe space for a group of strangers, and I was really amazed by what everyone was able to share and how vulnerable we were able to get with each other in a two hour period of time,” Video Art teacher Reb Limerick, who led one of the pods, said.

The conference concluded with a panel of students from all 15 schools.