Poster causes tension in the halls
January 31, 2018
Posters that are put up around the school, whether students pay attention to them or not, have an effect on their psychology. A variety of posters are frequently hung up around the school: some are inspirational, and some are informative of upcoming events. Each evokes a different reaction or emotion in every viewer, but the groups that put up posters, like leadership, intend to only put up posters that have a positive impact.
Trauma specialist Alfonso Ramirez has an understanding of the impact that posters can have on the students. “Our physical environment is directly linked to our sense of emotional well-being. Your brainstem is constantly picking up signals about our environment through the senses,” Ramirez said. “If it interprets those signals to mean that everything is safe, then it is more likely that you will be able to relax… and as a result be a better learner and more creative.”
Ramirez advises all students to report to administration or counseling if a poster distresses them. Alternatively they may talk to other students, find out whether others feel similarly, and report it as a group. Since administrators don’t always know what may concern students or not, student input is important to them.
Recently, there was controversy in the school over one poster that was hung up by the senior benches. The poster suggested that non-binary pronouns be used in place of “she” and “he”, or “her” and “his”, intending to create a more inclusive environment for those who identify as a different gender. However, some students interpreted the sign to be a school-sanctioned guideline rather than a suggestion for students looking to be more open-minded. The poster was torn down and had to be hung back up again. Due to the strong beliefs that some hold about this topic, even a single poster can cause a lot of dispute.
What follows is two publications students explaining the effect this poster had on them.
It’s an opportunity
When I heard there was a poster about nonbinary genders and pronouns hung up at Tigard High, I was pleasantly surprised.
When I heard it was torn down by my peers shortly after its appearance, I wasn’t surprised at all.
Being nonbinary means questions and accusations. Questions about what it “feels like” or “how it works” (these questions don’t exactly have proper answers, do they?), or accusations such as “you’re doing it for attention” or “you’re making it up.”
You could say this is because nonbinary and third genders are new, but they actually aren’t at all! In Hawaiian culture there are people called māhū, which translates to “in the middle”. They had traditional roles both in spirituality and society and are only unheard of due to American influence which condemned the thought of a third gender. Another example would be the hijaras of India. Hijaras are a third gender that are born male but present in a more feminine way, and they are given spiritual roles that neither men or women are allowed.So while nonbinary identities may seem “new,” in reality they’ve been around for a while, just newly accepted in American culture.
Having posters hung around the school is a great way to encourage acceptance for those uncomfortable with being male or female, however they don’t do much good when they’re laying on the ground.
Or much good at all if they were torn down in the first place, after all that just shows that the posters didn’t teach anything.
However, this opens up an opportunity. I would absolutely love to have an open conversation about gender identities at our school where students who reject the identities of those with nonbinary genders can maybe gain some sympathy.
While no one can really explain how gender works (well, unless you’re a psychiatrist) or how it “feels,” we can at least try to understand one another. We can at least accept what makes others more comfortable in their skin, whether it’s your personal belief or not.
The issue I have with the action of tearing the poster down is an issue of respect. The student or students who tore it down are essentially saying “I don’t respect your decision to go by other pronouns.”
However what they didn’t anticipate is the opportunity it opened up. We as a community now have a wonderful gateway into talking about diversity– and not just gender diversity. Tigard High has students from diverse racial and economic backgrounds, too, and all of us have a different experience with growing up. We’re all such beautifully unique people, and it’s time we embrace that and respect the decisions that come from these unique experiences.
I suppose in the end I’m only asking you, my community, to respect those around you. The LGBT+ community is not hurting anyone, and the goal of my writing isn’t to force a lifestyle on those who are comfortable in the gender binary. All I wish is for people to see nonbinary kids for who they are.
It’s not what I believe
Coming back from break, students have noticed a new sign by senior benches that promotes using pronouns and non gender specific terms. The signs that are being put up around the school and the messages being broadcasted to the student body do not align with my beliefs.
I do not think I am alone in this either, this sign does not represent the opinion of all students in THS. I do not agree with these messages and I do not know how to respond without hurting those that are overly sensitive. When I do say what I believe when it comes to gender, I am often referred to as “close minded.”
One student took matters into his own hands and tore down the poster protesting the message that is trying to encourage students to use gender neutral pronouns instead of correct gender specific terms. Shouldn’t we as students be able to express our opinions when it comes to certain issues too, but how well is that taken into account? If someone like me in the student body disagrees with what is being promoted on the walls what can I do to express my own beliefs?
I have been frustrated with a number of decisions that have been made this year. This fall a select group of students have specifically focused on changing the homecoming tradition and now students are being encouraged through posters to try using pronouns which they do not believe in or agree with. Is the school letting the voices of a few be heard more than the majority?
This new gender sign has drawn much negative attention from students and parents alike. As students return to this environment daily, how does it make it more welcoming for students to walk in knowing that they are in an environment that is not supporting what they believe in? It seems as if some groups are allowed to have a larger voice in the community of students than others.
Students with conservative opinions, like me, are often overlooked, or there is a backlash when I express my opinion that does not line up with everyone else’s. I feel as though students with differing opinions than what is considered to be “socially right” are often ridiculed before they even have a chance to share their opinion. I think that my opinion has been overlooked as students look to change our schools culture.