Eleven years ago, it was Massachusetts that made the first move against the law banning gay marriage. When a transgender or gay person presents their identity to society and decides to pursue their aspirations, they are often denied and forced to conform to society’s standards and beliefs. “Despite five decades of progress, equality is not within reach, and often not even within sight, for all persons impacted by violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Every day there is news about people being beaten or harassed because said individuals are gay or transgender. In today's society, it matters much more who people decide to love than who they can become or what they can offer. In this reality, never being enough is becoming almost normal. The transgender community faces scrutiny regarding their gender expression, sexual orientation,. These individuals face a world that is battling against them while they are simply living their truth.
Transgender is a commonly-used term for people who do not identify with their birth sex, so their gender identity or expression is different. Gender identity refers to one's own inner understanding instead the expression of gender that is shown externally. “Gender identity and sexual orientation are different aspects of identity. Everyone has a gender identity and sexual orientation, but a person's gender does not determine a person's sexual orientation. Transgender people can identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or none of the above,” according to the CDC.
Not all states are accepting this change; for example, Florida and Texas are still in retrograde. According to Governor Greg Abbott, “In late February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared that gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth should be classified as child abuse.” Abbott then directed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate families that are supporting and seeking care for their trans children, turning a state agency that is supposed to protect children into a body actively promoting their harm. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill into law. The bill bars teachers from creating a safe and welcoming classroom environment for gay or transgender students. It prevents teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues, history, or people. Under this law, parents are allowed to directly sue a school district if they believe that a teacher has violated this law. A multitude of companies have fired back in support of the students. Ben and Jerry’s stated,“Florida students have led walkouts in opposition to the legislation, and more than 150 companies (including us) have come out against it.”
It is easy to identify as an ally, but the label alone is not enough. Oppression does not take breaks. To be an effective ally, people need to be willing to stay consistent in their support of LGBTQ+ rights and defend LGBTQ+ people against discrimination.
This year, many students noticed something different when they returned to Bonneville High School. Last year, school released at 3:48; school now releases at 3:54. While this seems like a tiny change, it can feel much longer to a student already in school for over seven hours each day. As sophomore Isaac LeCheminant put it, “We are already at school for so long that six minutes seems minuscule, but each minute feels agonizingly long.” It turns out that there is a valid reason for the change, despite many students’ complaints.
In a survey of 120 Bonneville students, many mentioned the same problem. While six minutes may not seem like much time, it is a significant amount of time to be late for work. Before this year, many students had work shifts that started at four. They had 12 minutes to pack up their belongings and drive to their workplaces. This year, they ran into a problem: with only six minutes to do all that, they either showed up to work late or had to change which shift they worked. Senior Mykl Paulsen said, “[I] am unable to work the same shift at work, so I get paid less because I can't work as long.” Additionally, a problem arose for some students with the bus schedule. The buses stop at the middle school before coming to BHS; however, Rocky Mountain still releases the students at the same time as last year. Sophomore Ammon Creager said, “I almost miss the bus every day.” With this new ten-minute gap between release times, the buses often show up at Bonneville before the end-of-day bell even rings.
It turns out that the addition is not just “because they want us to cry,” as junior Clara Hoadley joked; there is a real reason. BHS principal Levi Owen explained that in the past, “buses were not able to make it to BHS and other high schools until well after school ended. The extended time... greatly reduces the amount of time students are left ‘unsupervised’ after the school day” and provides district transportation a little more wiggle room at the end of the day.
The extra six minutes at the end of the day may not feel quite so lengthy, yet it adds up to a great deal by the end of the school year. According to Owen, “By adding 6 minutes to the schedule, we actually pick up extra ‘days’ in the case of inclement weather or other breaks.” In past years, the district has come very close to not meeting the state-required instructional time and almost had to shorten spring break or add a few days to the end of the year. These few extra days allow space to breathe if a storm or power outage cancels school for a day or two. Additionally, it allows the district to have a slightly longer winter break this year!
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