“Even if you don’t identify as LGBT, we need your allyship and support to help make our campus better for queer youth,” asserted junior Sam Koseff at the Upper School’s Queer Student Union (QSU) assembly on Feb. 5. Sam and eight other club members then shared their stories, along with those of students who wished to remain anonymous, to an audience of their peers, faculty and staff.
“There’ve been a lot of other assemblies recently that had a similar format,” said senior, Student Council co-president and QSU member Kai McAliley. “We’ve noticed how effective it’s been to really get to know the student body.”
One by one, the students approached microphones interspersed throughout the audience that morning. While each of the speakers candidly recalled painful memories, many also expressed hope for a more inclusive future.
“For the first time, I’m excited to fully accept myself,” affirmed one student reader who described the initial anxiety that accompanied coming to terms with their sexuality.
Senior Aislinn Russell praised the community she has found participating in QSU: “You hear so much about the bad side of being queer, and I wanted to talk about the good too. Because, despite the hardships of being queer, no part of me wishes I wasn’t. I love being queer.”
Following the assembly, QSU faculty advisor Adam Waters acknowledged the importance of having an open, honest discussion of queer life at Crossroads. “As the students said at the assembly, we can’t rest on our laurels or simply compare ourselves to less progressive institutions,” noted Adam, a Life Skills teacher and Middle/Upper School counselor. “Queer students still feel unsafe here at times, whether it be through hearing homophobic slurs, experiencing a lack of awareness on the part of their peers, or being misgendered by teachers and others. Until [that changes], our work as a school isn’t done. I’m inspired by the courage and commitment of the young people willing to participate in the assembly and hopefully their stories will nudge the entire institution forward.”
Several students have already noticed a difference in the community in the weeks since the assembly took place. Sophomore Bella Williams—an ally who says she was “touched and pained by the stories that were told”—commented, “I think this assembly has already helped the School. Afterwards, I noticed some kids talking in a clump on the way out. They were discussing the nuances of homophobia, and that it can be unconscious as well as conscious. This made me proud.”