Unity Week Promotes Gender Inclusivity


Gabriella Bello

For the third day of Unity Week, No Place for Hate advocated for gender inclusivity and equality. They educated students on the fluidity of gender expression, and discussed the differences between sex and gender.

Gabriella Bello, Staff Writer

Advocating for inclusivity on campus, day three of Unity Week highlighted the topic gender equality. By definition, gender equality is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities, regardless of gender. Educating students on gender equality, advocacy group No Place for Hate aims to create a safer and more inclusive environment on campus.

The presentation focused mainly on the difference between sex and gender. While sex is set at birth, being determined by the biological attributes of a person, gender is the social construct of how we identify ourselves. This topic is a global discussion taking place to bring awareness to different gender expressions besides biological males and females. 

For the first time this year, two guest speakers, Jocelyn Gomez and Abby Hunt, came in from the LGBTQ Center of OC, and talked about the fluidity of gender and sexuality. They also touched on the different gender pronouns and why we should use people’s preferred pronouns. 

The center is a local resource that educates and provides support to individuals in all matters regarding LGBTQIA+. In addition to this, it  focuses on other aspects of inclusivity, including mental health and immigration. 

“The center is something that people can look up to and look to as a local source and support structure that they might not be able to have at home, online, or in their schools,” said junior William Meshkin, a member of No Place For Hate involved in the Gender Equality presentation. 

Coming out is another topic the center can assist individuals with. This can be an intimidating action for those who are questioning their identity, especially if they feel that they won’t get the acceptance they are hoping for. In a growing society, it’s important to ensure that people have a safe place or person they can go to and talk about what they are feeling. Advocating gender equality is the first step in creating that safe and comfortable environment for individuals of all identities. 

“Growing up, I’ve never really had much influence or influencers to go up to or help, but I’ve figured it out on my own and still am. I just think it’s important to promote and bring awareness because it’s such a modern thing now that it’s everywhere” said senior Carter Van Zanten, a No Place for Hate member who led the Gender Equality presentation. 

It’s very important to understand that these people [with different gender expression] are not just choosing these lives because they want the attention. It’s who they are and they have the courage to say it”

— William Meshkin

When there is lack of understanding in gender diversity, gender equality can be a difficult concept. Some might have personal bias or say it’s confusing because they simply just don’t understand why individuals may want to change their identity and pronouns.

“People [with different gender expressions] many times they’re overlooked by society, many times are rendered off as just a fad or a trend and it’s gonna go away soon, that they’re gonna realize that they aren’t this idea. It’s very important to understand that these people are not just choosing these lives because they want the attention. It’s who they are and they have the courage to say it,” said Meshkin.

Whatever the case, it’s important to be educated and open-minded, in order to create an accepting environment for all. 

According to the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention of LGBTQ+ youth, in 2021 “52% of transgender and non-binary youth thought about suicide, and 1 out of 5 attempted suicide”.

When one doesn’t feel accepted in their identity, there can be serious harmful effects to their mental health, confidence and own feelings of self worth. 

However, there are ways to combat this high percentage. The Trevor Project shows that “youth who reported higher gender identity acceptance from a variety of young people has significantly lowered odds of attempting suicides: from their peers (34% lower odds), from their straight friends (34% lower odds), from their LGBTQ friends (33% lower odds), and from their classmates (42% lower odds)”.  

As teenagers, some of our strongest and most open relationships are with people our own age. Being willing to listen to our peers’ experiences and stories can help show them that their voices matter and that they are accepted for who they are.

Day 3 of Unity Week provided a great opportunity for both students who are trying to figure out their gender identity and students who want to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community to learn about the different ways people identify. Over 115 of our students, teachers, and staff attended this presentation.  

“As someone who belongs to the community, I know how hard it can be to adapt. I struggled adapting to even my own identity. It’s normal to make mistakes and asking questions is just as important. In fact, asking questions builds your own knowledge so don’t be afraid to ask for help and support” said senior Dioselyn Cortes, another member of No Place For Hate who was involved in the Gender Equality Presentation. 

You can find free resources from the LGBTQ Center here, as well as upcoming events