January Term closed today with an all Upper School teach-in on "Gender and Power in the 21st Century."
Students and adults engaged in a full day of learning and dialogue around issues of gender equity in our society and world.
Keynote speaker, Luis Ramirez, works at the Attic Youth Center (Philadelphia's only independent LGBTQ youth center) and is a therapist and presenter who uses a relational, intersectional, and social justice approach in his work.
Luis spoke about systems of oppression (such as gender bianarism, and gender essentialism: the assumed ways boys and girls are "supposed to act") and the many factors that inform identity.
Oppression can be persistent and pervasive. Luis says, "I still experience oppression as queer person of color, even after getting a degree from Ivy League school."
Luis introduced the concept of intersectionality, a concept coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989. Coming from feminist and critical race theory, intersectionality looks at how people's multidimensional identities—incorporating race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation—affect the experience of oppression.
Luis interspersed his talk with videos that challenged the way we think about transgender identities and white privilege, and he called on students to "embrace and hold that uncomfortable feeling" because that's when growth happens.
In the afternoon, students attended one of several films on gender issues, and wrapped up with discussion groups.
Marion Standefer '17 says, "I'm pretty involved in social justice and gender issues in general at GFS, so even though I already knew some of the information, I was really glad that the school provided a baseline about these topics for us to access in future conversations."