Our Rashi student leaders are dedicated to ensuring that our community is one where people feel encouraged to express their identities fully. A group of Grade 6 students recently sat down for a roundtable discussion about why this topic is so important to them and how they are advocating for the community they want to create.
Why is creating a climate of belonging so important to you?
Lucy (she/her): I want everyone who comes through this school to feel included no matter what their identity is.
Alex (she/her): If you don’t feel like you have any meaning to other people or you feel like you aren’t a part of something, then you might feel really bad about yourself. I think it’s important to know you are special and that you mean something to other people.
Arlo (he/his): It’s about supporting people who need to be supported so there is less hate in the world. You can block out the hate in the world when you know people who are different from you and you accept them.
Maddy (she/her): I feel like some people who are part of the LGBTQ community feel like if they come out, they won’t feel accepted and so it’s important to have a community where they know that they’ll be accepted and treated no differently for who they love or what gender they identify as or what pronouns they use.
Gabi (he/she/they): I feel like if you are in a group that doesn’t accept you as a human being, for who you are, it’s not a good place to be. It can hurt your mental health and how you see yourself. Being in a very accepting environment, an inclusive environment is an important thing because it can affect other parts of your life if it’s not.
What does the word ‘Pride’ mean to you?
Gabi (he/she/they): I feel like it means that everyone can be who they are without having to worry that they are the only person. During Pride month, you can explore yourself freely. I feel like Pride is an opening to a place where everyone can explore, whether they are going through it themselves, or are an ally.
Lucy (she/her): Pride is being happy with who you are and wanting to share it with the world. I think that Pride is being wherever you want to be and wherever you are, that you are proud of your identity and who you are.
Maddy (she/her): Pride is being happy and accepting who you are and showing who you are.
How is belonging around LGBTQ+ identities woven into the life of Rashi?
Rose (they/them): Gender neutral bathrooms were important to me this year and I was glad when some Rashi bathrooms were labeled gender neutral. People should feel comfortable. Some people don’t want to go into the boys or girls bathroom.
Lucy(she/her): Making people feel comfortable where they go to the bathroom is important. I personally feel comfortable in the girls bathroom, but some people don’t. We need to make people aware that some people aren’t comfortable and make it so that it’s more normal for there to be gender neutral bathrooms everywhere.
Gabi (he/she/they): I feel like, especially this year, LGBTQ+ stuff has become a lot more part of the school and it goes to show that Rashi is here to teach us and help us have good friends regardless of our identity. A lot of Rashi’s core values relate to why we accept people who are LGBTQ+.
Maddy (she/her): For my Bat Mitzvah, I am collecting money for the Trevor Project because it made me upset to find out that people my age were ending their life because of bullying and discrimination towards them for who they love or what pronouns they use.
Lucy (she/her): Part of my platform when I ran for Student Government VP was to start a gay/straight alliance club and I still want to do that. I think it’s important as the issues are becoming more woven into our community, to do something about it, to educate people who aren’t so educated about it and to make people who are part of the community feel accepted and welcome.
Gabi (he/she/they): It’s important for me and for other people that we not assume what people’s pronouns are or what they identify as. I feel like being in a school like Rashi that will educate about that and be open to that is really important.
Lucy (she/her): Whenever people get pronouns wrong, I feel the need to correct them. I think, “That’s not right. You need to fix this.” Some people say that middle schoolers aren’t ready to talk about pronouns, but we are ready. It’s a part of our identity. It’s a part of us. It’s not a phase. We are young, but we are not too young to know our own self.
We thank our students for reflecting in such a thoughtful way and for enabling us to hear their priorities and passions through their distinctive voices.