LGBTQ students, alternative school, gendered classroom, advocacy, activism, support, allies, explaining, social dynamics, coming out, queer students, closeted, uncomfortable, gendered language
Ruby: Um, but there’s a lot of kids, especially at an alternative school, um, who have – who are in – decide – who identify in some way as LGBTQ plus. There’s a lot of kids who, um, especially in such a small school, don’t really feel like they can come out or say who they are. And there’s a lot of gay kids and a lot of bi kids. And especially over the past two years, and my friends realized that they were trans, or um, non-binary, and they wanted to go by a different name, and they didn’t feel very comfortable, like, telling the teachers that. Especially since my school, however alternative it is, we have a big problem with gender roles at our school, where it’s everything we do is the girls do… like, we’re splitting up the class now, girls go here, boys go here. And if you don’t identify as one, like, that doesn’t work
Ruby: Yah, we have split classes, which at the core of it– we – our science classes, half of them are as a group and half of them are split boys and girls, and at the core of it, it was because in studies done, girls didn’t tend to actually do the experiments, they would write it all down, and boys would do it. So the idea behind it was to get girls in to doing the experiment, doing the action part of it, which is at its core a great idea, and its core is very, like, good-hearted.
Wendy: It’s meant to be egalitarian.
Ruby: Yah, but then you come into these other problems, where you’re not really thinking it through of who else it could affect.
Ruby: so I found, because since I’ve been so young I’ve gone to Pride and been really outspoken about it. Um, and really this is my family, this is how it works, screw off if you don’t agree with it. So I found that a lot kids who didn’t grow up with that or grew up in a really straight household or perhaps they don’t have parents who would accept them or they don’t know how to speak out for them, I tend to be very aggressive and help use my voice of confidence that I’ve always had to help them with their situation.
Tara: That’s amazing. Can you give us an example?
Ruby: Um, like one of my close friends realized that they wanted to go by a different name, kind of half way through grade seven. And they were really, really scared, because they didn’t know how the teachers were going to react, how the students would react. And there had been someone in the year older who had gone up until graduation, and graduated and still never said that they wanted to go by a different name. And they really regretted it. So there’s this kind of situation where they didn’t want to go up to the teachers, and they didn’t really want to tell everyone else, and they kind of started saying--they wanted to go by Grayson--and kind of starting saying that out loud and telling the other students. But you get these other students being like, wait, who? It would be to the point where it wasn’t just confusion, it was kind of ignorance. You could tell they were being really tough about it and making a joke out of it when it’s something that isn’t really a joke and is quite serious. So I found that I would step in and kind of help them out and say, no this is this, and if you need it to be explained to you--some people really don’t know what being non-binary means, some people really don’t know what transitioning means, or if they want to wear a binder, they don’t know what that is, or how that works, or why they would, so I found I was often kind of expressing and helping, and we would talk to the class as a kind of group, and talk in meeting about it. And we’ve now gotten to a point where they’ve recently started talking to teachers, and I really helped them do that and am looking into helping them into counselling to help them transition, so yah, that’s really cool.