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Gender Diversity policy is a start, conversation still needed

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The parent meeting on Jan. 30 set an example of productive conversation about transgender students

The+parent+meeting+that+took+place+on+Jan.+30+about+the+Gender+Diversity+policy+gave+parents+a+great+opportunity+to+listen+about+the+reality+of+gender+diversity+for+students.+
The parent meeting that took place on Jan. 30 about the Gender Diversity policy gave parents a great opportunity to listen about the reality of gender diversity for students.

The parent meeting that took place on Jan. 30 about the Gender Diversity policy gave parents a great opportunity to listen about the reality of gender diversity for students.

Mimi Geller

Mimi Geller

The parent meeting that took place on Jan. 30 about the Gender Diversity policy gave parents a great opportunity to listen about the reality of gender diversity for students.

Listening is just as impactful as conversing. On Jan. 30 in Driscoll Commons, St. Paul Academy and Summit School parents were invited to listen and partake in a productive conversation surrounding the new Gender Diversity Policy released on Jan. 18. The meeting was in a presentation style format. Two speakers, Dr. Todd Savage and Leslie Lagerstrom, came to speak more in-depth about the reality of transgender student struggles from both a psychological perspective and a familial viewpoint.

To put it simply, this presentation fostered surmounting understanding, appreciation, and empathy among parents towards transgender students who face overwhelming obstacles within school settings. The implementation of the new policy is a step in the right direction for SPA, as it acknowledges and protects those students who are not privileged enough to be cisgender. This policy culminates the sentiment that SPA policies should reflect society and the greater acknowledgment of gender diversity and fluidity.

The conversation must be incorporated by faculty so as to fulfill SPA’s breadth of unity, empathy, and progressiveness.”

The program last week, however, is solely a start. Students must engage in thoughtful conversation concerning the Gender Diversity Policy. In order for this to happen, SPA faculty involved with this policy must give students a similar opportunity to listen and start the conversation. Inviting professionals and experienced adults like Savage and Lagerstrom will hit closer to home for students. Statistics about transgender youth, as presented by Savage, create understanding. A legitimate family story of a son’s transgender journey as shared by Lagerstrom will cultivate empathy. For once, it is time students at SPA honestly listen and then proceed to join in relevant conversation.

While it may seem unnecessary to some students to converse about the reality of gender diversity as there is seemingly little of it within the halls of SPA, a recent Minnesota study suggests otherwise. The study focused on students in 9th and 11th grade and found that an estimated 3 percent identify as non-conforming or gender diverse. The increase of students asserting their gender identity stems from augmentation of gender diversity visibility. This increase is definitely prevalent at SPA and the policy excellently understands this. Yet, the student body as a whole cannot without facilitated presentation and conversation.

SPA policies have historically been altered in positive ways that reflect deeper recognition of diversity both within and outside of the school. The change in dress code policy was a great example of this. The Gender Diversity policy also reflects this sentiment easily. However, students must partake in thoughtful conversation surrounding the policy and its application towards students who identify as gender diverse. The conversation must be incorporated by faculty so as to fulfill SPA’s breadth of unity, empathy, and progressiveness.

Ultimately, transgenderism is real, it is prevalent at SPA, and it demands recognition and sensitivity. Students, particularly those who identify as cisgender, must understand their gender conformity privilege and listen to others who are not. Likewise, students need to listen to those adults and peers who have lived experiences surrounding their gender diversity or field of study. The action has been done by faculty, now students must turn those words from the policy into acceptance.

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About the Contributor
Mimi Geller, Director of RubicOnline

Mimi Geller is the Director of RubicOnline. This is her fourth year on staff. Mimi believes that high school journalism connects people by sharing their stories while documenting the spirit of a community. Mimi has additionally served as the Assistant Director of Journalism at Orca Tribe Project, a youth initiative that connects local artists in the Twin Cities and has written for The Villager Newspaper in St. Paul. Outside of journalism, Mimi is the captain of Girls Varsity Volleyball, a member of Community Action and Service and a part of Summit Singers. Mimi can be reached at rubicon.spa@gmail.com

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