Through personal stories, facts and statistics, and discussion of current events, GSA (Gender and Sexual Alliance) highlighted the importance of allyship during a special upper school assembly on Thursday, April 7.
Assembly speakers included students and faculty, who covered topics including LGBTQ+ rights and the law, the recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in New York City, sapphic relationships, the intersection of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, and the harms of making jokes about the LGBTQ+ community. Students also participated in a game that aimed to educate students and faculty about various issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community, where they learned, for example, that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.
The event preceded the national Day of Silence on Friday, April 22, during which community members can take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools. GSA also plans to host a campus Day of Silence on Friday, April 29.
“Since the beginning of the year, GSA leadership has been feeling like we ought to step up our presence on campus, which is why we took the Day of Silence as an opportunity to educate and empower our community,” GSA Co-Chair Luke Gorecki-Byrnes ’23 explained. He emphasized that “pointing out the issue isn't enough — the issue won't stop unless people engage in some healthy introspection and realize for themselves that their behavior is problematic. Education is simply a tool to begin that process.”
Fellow GSA Co-Chair Tyler Hack ’23 shared a similar sentiment, explaining,“The GSA special assembly was crucial in emphasizing the severity of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination while also fostering the understanding that many of these issues are present at Masters. We stressed the importance of active allyship through standing against discrimination, not just not partaking in it, as well as shared the horrific experiences of many of our queer students and faculty members.”
For Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Selas Douglas, the assembly was an important opportunity for community members to share their experiences and educate their peers. “I’m thankful we got the opportunity to hear both student and adult perspectives that day, and am most appreciative that they were willing to be so vulnerable with us in an effort to help the community grow and learn,” Douglas said.
Associate Head for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Roland Davis appreciated the students’ hard work: “They did an amazing job organizing the event, and also presenting a wonderful combination of personal narratives and relevant information. I could not have been more pleased.”
For upper school history and religion teacher Brendan Collins Jordan, who spoke about personal experiences of “self-censorship and self-silencing because of a lack of trans role models” as well as recent legislation “that would restrict trans and nonbinary peoples’ ability to be safe and visible in public spaces,” the goal was to positively impact everyone in the community. “I hope that LGBTQ+ students in the audience walked away with a sense that they are not alone, that they have a community here to support them, and that they are worthy and capable of having full and happy lives as they live into their own identities.” Additionally, “I hope that cis and straight students walked away with an appreciation for how important it is to support and affirm their LGBTQ+ friends, family, and peers, and perhaps a little more insight into how to be that supportive person within the Masters community.”