Action idea: write a letter to your high school

Inspired by some people on social media, I decided to write a letter to the administration of my Catholic high school in Portland, Oregon. It is a bit nervewracking considering the internalized misogyny and homophobia being at that school cultivated for me, but it feels important to speak out. Below is the letter I sent (with some specifics rescinded). I welcome anyone to use this letter as a template for your own!

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Dear staff and administration of ________,

I am a graduate of the ______ class of 2007. My education and experiences at ________ helped spark my interest in social justice, leading me to my current work in communications and care work. I am also queer and transgender, two important components of my identity that did not feel safe to explore in my time at______ . With gendered dress codes, “faggot” as the all-purpose insult among my peers, and no clear stance against homophobia and transphobia stated by the administration,______ was not a safe space for me. I feel that I, too, likely engaged in hurtful attitudes and behaviors toward non-normative students, due to internalized misogyny and homophobia. I have heard that there are now several more openly gay kids at______ than there were when I was a student, and I am hopeful______ is taking measures to be more actively inclusive. I am grateful for community and care I found in the drama department and classes led by nurturing teachers including ______ and ______.

The current presidential administration’s rescinding of protection for trans and gender non-conforming students is heartwrenching and violent. Around 42% of transgender people attempt suicide in their lifetime (compared to 5% of the general population), so when it comes to how transgender youth are treated at school, this is quite literally a matter of life and death.

I am writing to urge you to create a sensitivity training program among staff and students at ______ . I would like to know about the availability of single-stall bathrooms (in classroom buildings and athletic facilities) and hear about plans to increase the availability of these. I want to know how you will protect trans and gender non-conforming kids, and remind you that just because not all of your LGBTQ students aren’t out doesn’t mean they aren’t there. How are you going to address the behavior of those who violate a safe environment for young members of the LBGTQ+ community?

I look forward to hearing from you and am rooting for your community as a space where all students can fully discover and become who they are.

Sincerely,

Freddie (he/him/his)
Class of 2007

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