A rainbow flag waved high above the quad signaling Pride Week at Masters had begun.
The week, a celebration of identity and self, was a time for reflection and support for the School’s LGBTQ+ community with activities hosted by the upper school Q+ affinity group.
“The students designed a Masters Pride Week around the dates of April 10-14 as Friday, April 14, is the GLSEN National Day of Silence,” explained Q+ Co-Advisor Katie Meadows (Jillian McCoy is also co-advisor). “One of the main goals was to create a variety of gathering spaces throughout the week where Q+ friends and allies could come together and celebrate their identities.”
Daily events on campus included wearing colors in unity throughout the week; creating pride sidewalk art; putting up posters that highlighted various LGBTQIA+ individuals throughout history who helped pave the way for others; offering pride flags, pins and stickers to all; and holding a bake sale fundraiser for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ young people. The GLSEN Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ+ students and allies take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment of and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in schools.
Senior Kathy Christie ’23 emphasized the importance of raising awareness. “In this progressive world, people tend to forget that there are still problems LGBT youth are facing. There’s still bullying going on,” she said. “From freshman year on I always tried to be myself openly so that other people around me would feel comfortable doing so even if it was at a risk to myself.”
Willow Maniscalco ’24 is grateful for Christie’s leadership and friendship. “She did help me feel more comfortable in my identity because before I came to Masters I was very much closed off about my identity,” she said. “But when I came to this school, I felt I could be more open. Because I can be more open, it deserves some celebration. I think that it's important that other people learn that they can celebrate themselves without having to feel like they have to hide themselves all the time to live up to certain expectations.”
Last week, the Middle School’s Gender and Sexual Alliance (GSA) presented about the Day of Silence and told students they could participate by wearing purple bracelets if they wanted to remain silent or wear stickers to show they were allies.
At the end of the April 14 morning meeting, Head of Middle School Tasha Elsbach presented some slides about the Day of Silence and asked the students to read them silently. “The kids had to read the slides to themselves and were dismissed in silence and that was really moving. It just set the tone for the day,” shared Gretchen Campbell, GSA advisor.
Campbell was impressed with the level of support and solidarity among the students. “When we broke the silence, I spoke to them about what their experience was of having to remain silent and not having a voice,” she said. “There are so many people in the LGBTQ+ community who are silenced every day and have to go to school in silence or live their lives in silence. We were trying to get the students to understand what that felt like and to be able to empathize.”
As Q+ members broke their silence with an ice cream social hosted by Head of School Laura Danforth and Dr. Paula Chu in Park Cottage, Meadows reflected on the support she felt and witnessed: “For me, the highlight of the week was seeing so many members of our community showing up for those who identify as LGBTQIA+. It is powerful for our students to feel this kind of visible support and love from community members.”