January 20, 2022
Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the latest in a series of quarterly Middle School assemblies, called Real Talk.
The goal of these assemblies is to provide Middle School students with opportunities to understand the lived experience of some of their peers whose backgrounds may be different than their own.
Past assemblies have focused on learning styles, religious backgrounds, and race and ethnicity.
This time, the topic was gender identity and sexual orientation. For 45 minutes, a panel of six poised and courageous Middle and Upper School students fielded questions read by the moderators, Middle School teachers Jacky Kalubi and Kristin Suer. The questions they answered had been culled from questions submitted by Middle School students during discussions in their advisory groups.
Honestly, this was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve had in a 43-year career in education. I was stunned at how sensitively the moderators orchestrated the selection of questions and how honestly and openly the panelists described their own experiences: understanding and coming to terms with their gender identity or sexual orientation. They talked openly about obstacles they had faced, prejudices they had encountered, and the support — or lack thereof — they had received from their friends, classmates, and families.
The audience was rapt and respectful throughout, and, I have no doubt, learned a great deal about how to respect and value those whose experiences are different from their own.
I’m very proud to be part of an institution that works so hard at creating this kind of environment, a warm, inclusive community where students can feel safe being themselves. Congratulations to all involved in planning this valuable learning experience.