GSA, SFE and Feminism Club Join Together to Discuss Microaggressions

Students from the Feminism Club, the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and Students for Equality (SFE) joined together on Oct. 11 to discuss microaggressions—hostile or derogatory language that perpetuates marginalization of groups of people—in the hallways of Walpole High that affect people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and women.

“Today is important to me because I think the issue of inclusive language and avoiding microaggressions in our speech is not one we talk enough about,” Feminism Club adviser Jamie O’Leary said. “I want to hear from students to see if they think [such language] is a problem and how it is a problem.”

Led by O’Leary, GSA adviser Ashley Prickel-Kane and SFE adviser Bailey Tighe, students gathered in the auditorium seats for a quick overview of the definition of a microaggression. After, they broke into small groups, where they discussed individual issues relating to language in the hallways of the school environment.

“I was there as a member of the Feminism Club to talk with members of the GSA and Students For Equality to
discuss an agenda for peace and equality in the Walpole High School community,” senior Erin Mouradian said. Mouradian founded the Feminism Club with senior Lily Ahmed last March.

The topic for discussion at the joint group meeting was how derogatory language is used in the school environment, and how finding a solution is overlooked. Once broken into smaller discussion groups, students shared what they hope to accomplish in the future. With responses varying from creating an informational pamphlet for teachers so they can deal with such a situation to educating students themselves, the student leader coalition addressed the changes they desire to bring to Walpole High and how these changes could occur in the school community in the upcoming year.

“We as a society have fallen into the mindset that it is acceptable for us to tell other people how we think they are. It is none of our business. They know who they are and even if they don’t, they don’t need [other students] to tell them. They just need [people] to be there and accept them for who they are when they decide who they are,” sophomore and GSA member Cate Lightbody said.

In addition to discussing language and its effects in the school, students saw similarities in Walpole High’s new core values of PRIDE: Positivity, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy.

“I think [the meeting] demonstrates PRIDE, and especially respect. A lot of people, at least who I have interacted with so far, have been showing a lot of positivity in their interactions with each other and their drive to make the school a better place,” senior Allison Millette, a member of GSA and Feminism Club, said.

For the future, the groups plan on meeting again to discuss issues to a greater extent in hope of giving a voice to those who stand against discrimination of any kind, while addressing issues that exist at Walpole High but have not yet been addressed. The student leader coalition is planning on another meeting on the upcoming PRIDE Day on Nov. 21 and is accepting anyone that is interested in joining.

“I am here today to be part of a community who is trying to change the culture, the language of Walpole High School,” senior and SFE member Javon Jackson said

Students from GSA, FSE and Feminism Club break into small groups to discuss microaggressions in the halls. (Photo/ Samantha Simons