Students in equity council educate teachers on identity


Students share their experience in the school with staff for a professional development day

Alana Wasserman and Ikran Abdi

Coming from the clubs of Dare 2 Be Real, Black Student Union, Gender Sexuality Alliance, and Women’s Rights Club, the Equity Council is a group of students aiming to make equitable changes throughout the school. The group came together over the summer, and so far, they have met with administration and participated in teacher workshops to achieve their goals.

Kendall Minta, member of Equity Council and one of the leaders of the Black Student Union mentions the importance of being represented. “There are so many marginalized groups in our school and I think it’s important for our voices to be heard. A lot of times, students are afraid to speak up.”

In the first professional development day the Equity Council participated in, the students led a training session where they talked to teachers about their perspectives on identity. 

Minta described having dialogues with teachers about things she wouldn’t ordinarily discuss, such as race and privilege, as “frightening at first.” But after realizing that teachers were there to listen and learn, she has now understood. “No one can invalidate your own personal experience, there isn’t anything you can say that isn’t true.”

After the training session, the students hosted a table in New Commons where they shared resources with teachers about inclusive language, having conversations about race and how to respect a student’s gender identity. After teachers became more aware of gender identity, member of the council senior Tristan Victoria, who is also president of Women’s Rights Club, has noticed some teachers contribute by creating forms for students asking their pronouns and looking for ways to build relationships with them. 

For their second professional development day, the Equity Council led “the walk”, organizing more students to meet teachers and give them a tour of the school through their eyes. They went around the school explaining what certain spaces meant to them, as well as the memories and issues that they associate with that space.

One topic students talked about with teachers was “The Wall.” Junior Sofia Pardo, a student participant, said, “there’s a sense of hierarchy when it comes to the wall. It can be seen as a very negative thing that’s been going on for decades at our school.” 

Senior Valentina Gujan, another student participant in the walk, said, “One of the most important topics for me was the gender-neutral bathroom.” She said that she learned how many people are unaware of their existence and how they help people feel more comfortable. Pardo and Gujan hope that the teachers take in what the students have shared and make a difference to make students more comfortable in their classrooms.

In the future, the Equity Council plans to organize more teacher workshops and find ways to make a more inclusive environment. “I hope that once we leave here the teachers can be educated on how to properly access different students because not everyone can learn the same way,” said Victoria.