Informing Identity

GSA board teaches about transgender expression


Katie McMullin, Editor-In-Chief

The Hoover GSA board members and junior Cole Tite, joined the teachers on their professional development day Feb. 18 and gave a presentation about students’ gender identity. The board consists of seniors Gracie Ford, Katie McMullin, Ash Barros and Fritz Smith, juniors Hannah Laing and Lauren Bundschuh and sophomore Kennedy Gillogly. There were three sessions in total, and the students split up into groups to present. The event was organized by assistant superintendent Mr. Dave Pilati as well as other school staff.
“Once each month, there is a meeting called Key Communicators,” Pilati said. “It involves our superintendent Mr. Wendorf, the district treasurer Mr. Tolson, the district director of business Mr. Henne, the district director of development and special projects Mr. Walker, and myself.”
They decided to invite the students to come on the professional development day to teach NCCS middle and high school staff about gender expression.
“We decided to offer the session on gender identity to all of our middle and high school staff members because it was shared with us at one of these meetings earlier in the year by some staff members,” Pilati said.
Pilati sat in on all three sessions, rotating between each group of students.
“In all three sessions, there were staff members who asked questions in an earnest attempt to better understand how they could do a better job in making more students feel included, safe, secure and more comfortable in their classrooms,” he said.
Many teachers who attended learned several things from the presentation given by the students. They listened with open ears and an open mind.
“I learned that sometimes the language I use could be changed to make students who are members of the LBGTQ+ community more comfortable and feel more included,” Pilati said.
CCP precalc, Honors Algebra II and AP Computer Science teacher Ms. Deborah Wiley was present during the third session of presentations.
“I learned that LGBTQ+ separates the vocabulary of sex and gender,” she said.
Besides learning about new ideas, some of the students even shared their own personal experiences here at Hoover.
“I also believe that the staff at Hoover High School does their very best to make all students feel comfortable,” Wiley said.
The students who presented were nervous at first. Standing in front of one’s teachers from past to present can be nerve-racking.
“I felt that the students presenting were extremely brave,” Wiley said. “It takes a lot of courage to talk/present to a group of teachers and staff on any topic, let alone a topic that can be very volatile.”
GSA board member Ash Barros presented in front of the teachers, many of whom he was seeing for the first time. He transferred to Hoover at the end of last year, so being in front of so many new people was nerve-racking.
“I knew I’d be presenting in front of my own teachers, and did quite a few times,” Barros said. “However the teachers were super awesome about it, and genuinely listened to what we had to say and that was pretty awesome.”
Many students at Hoover express their identity differently, and it was important to share that with the staff here.
“Identity is such an integral part of a person,” Barros said. “If identity is misjudged it can really hurt someone, especially teenagers trying to come into themselves and be happy.”
During the presentation, one thing that was stressed was to try and make students feel comfortable in their classrooms. All it takes is one step in the right direction to really make a change in someone’s life.
“It’s okay to mess up sometimes,” Barros said. “As long as you say sorry, and really just push the idea that the best thing to do is just listen, because everyone has different experiences.”