Skip to main content

Trans-itions

The news media is on fire these days regarding legislation in Mississippi and North Carolina--legislation that makes provisions for discrimination based on one's sexual orientation or gender identity. The governors of both states have signed off on this legislation (HB1523 in Mississippi; HB 2 in North Carolina), and the nation has responded, both within and outside these states—from boycotts to college campus protests.

Prior to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signing HB 2 into law, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts sent him the following text directly: 

Please do not sign this awful bill...Poorly conceived and written. There is no provision for any enforcement for race, religion, etc. It will be legal for restaurants to hang a sign saying 'no gays allowed' out front. Is this the N.C. we want?

McCrory ignored this text.

His decision to convene the North Carolina legislature and sign HB 2 into law this March came as a response to a local ordinance in Charlotte that banned discrimination against the LGBT community, increasing nondiscrimination policies that already existed. In other words, whereas Charlotte's mayor was aiming to be inclusive--to acknowledge the LGBT community for their totality and humanity--Governor McCrory wanted to define a human being's identity on his terms.

McCrory, it seems, has transitional issues.

Typically, when we think of the end of the school year, we don't think about the firestorm of backlash against a state's discriminatory legislation. We think of graduations, celebrations, endings--joyous moments to take stock of growth and new beginnings--and we mark these significant moments through rituals and ceremonies, through transitions that allow us to embrace inevitable change.

And yet, there is a way that the response to legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi is a marker of change as well.

While there is nothing celebratory about discrimination, the response to these laws is significant. (Even President Obama has weighed in.) As a nation, we are expanding our definitions of gender identity and striving (sometimes clumsily) to add more of our population into the country's narrative. We are aiming to accept the inevitable changes that come with civil and human rights.

My hope is that the process of our work in schools--both public and independent--can foster this sort of expansive thinking: to raise good human beings, and to send these good human beings--our graduates--into the world to make positive, inclusive change.

While our nation is in transition, our schools are engaging in the same conversations that are happening on a mass scale: gender-neutral bathroom spaces; anti-racist affinity groups; equity and inclusion efforts in our hiring practices; maker spaces, design thinking; project-based learning; STEM and STEAM--policies and practices that acknowledge the whole child/human of today rather than the outmoded (and often limiting) approaches used in the schools of our upbringing. In this present-day work, as we prepare our students for the next phase of their academic careers, I hope we can say to them, "We acknowledge the totality of who you are, and we value you for all you bring to our communities."

In these coming weeks, school years will be ending, classrooms will be closing down, teachers will be getting some much-needed rest, people will be coming and going at our school sites. Transitions--inevitable change--will be occurring.

And while there is much work to be done in our nation and our schools, there is much to celebrate as well: our ongoing commitment to redefine what it means to be educated--and ultimately, what it means to be human. May that re-definition be inclusive and just for all. (I hope you're reading this, Governor McCrory.)

And may you have smooth transitions as your school years come to a close.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The first post...

Like many approaching middle-agers and digital immigrants, I'm new to the blogging world. I read blogs; I comment on blogs; I like blogs--I even know that "blog" is shorthand for web log, so there ya go. While I hope to post about a range of topics, and hopefully focus in on issues of teaching and social justice, this first blog post is dedicated to my dog, Buster. Buster is a rescue dog--and his issues run deep. I used to be annoyed at those bumper stickers people had regarding their rescue pets, the ones that read: Who rescued who?  Mostly, I was annoyed because I went back and forth between whether the object of the verb should be "who" or "whom." But then when I came to the surface and got over my pretension, I thought of Buster. Buster doesn't care about the who/whom debate (most of my students don't either).  And when it comes to the notion that a pet can rescue his/her/their owner as much as an owner can rescue his/her/their pe

Holocaust Memories: A Tribute to my Grandparents

My grandmother, Dita Schwarz, believed, “Everything is written and is meant to be.” My grandfather, Max Schwarz believed, "W hen you’re in trouble you get strong; you do things you never think you can do. You have to help people; and no one is better than anyone else." Despite being forced from their homes, losing their family members, and suffering the devastation of the Holocaust, my grandparents lived their lives with hope. Here are their stories: In March 2009 when I visited my grandparents (they lived nearby, and I saw them routinely), I sat for some time with my grandmother, who, for the first time in my life told me her story of the Holocaust. I learned that my roots in San Francisco stretch further back than I realized, and go back to my great great grandfather Hammerslag, who was born in San Francisco before he moved to England, met my great great grandmother and eventually settled down in Vienna, Austria.

The Path is the Goal: My Mindfulness Practice

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, UMass Medical School, and the Institute of Neuroimaging in Germany published a study in 2010 about mindfulness meditation—the practice we engage in daily here at Bay. Their findings were the following: Mindfulness meditation has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being that extend beyond the time the individual is formally meditating. Over the last three decades mindfulness meditation practices have been increasingly incorporated into psychotherapeutic programs to take advantage of these benefits. A large body of research has established the efficacy of these mindfulness-based interventions in reducing symptoms of a number of disorders, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and chronic pain, as well as improving well-being and quality of life. Mindfulness meditation involves the development of awareness of present-moment experience with a compassionate, nonjudgmental stance. It