Community Conversation Covers LGBTQ+ Identity

How can I tell if someone I know is part of the LGBTQ+ community?” was one of the questions submitted by an anonymous community member for the second Community Conversation of the school year.

The Student Council on Diversity and Inclusion organized the second virtual Community Conversation on “LGBTQ+ Identity and LGBTQ+ in Politics” on December 5. Prior to the meeting, community members were invited to submit questions anonymously about LGBTQ+ identities. 

The first half of the conversation primarily focused on the LGBTQ+ community at the school. In particular, students discussed ways to reduce stigma and to support those who identify as LGBTQ+. Questions discussed during the conversation include, “For people in the LGBTQ+ community, do you feel as if people at Hotchkiss treat you differently at all, and if so, how can we help to lessen that divide?” and “What are some resources available on campus/virtually for those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community?” 

Students spent the second half of the conversation responding to questions about LGBTQ+ identity in American politics. Topics included the potential impacts of Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court and the election of Joe Biden on LGBTQ+ rights. Amber Bretz ’23, member of the Student Council on Diversity and Inclusion, said, “I think it’s really important for students to give their input and for people to lean into discomfort and be frank with each other. I think that’s what contributed to the success of the most recent Community Conversation. A lot of the students who contributed were frank even if they sensed some discomfort or sensitivity around the topic.”

However, some students had advice for future Community Conversations. An anonymous participant said, “For a conversation that is supposed to be surrounded around LGBTQ+ people at Hotchkiss, surprisingly little time was spent focused on our issues. I would have liked if the Council of Diversity and Inclusion had consulted with more members of the community before hosting this meeting, as the time would have been better spent on more personal problems.”

The Community Conversations series was introduced in February 2019 by Dr. Rachel Myers, former director of diversity and inclusion. Past topics include Allyship, Latinx identity, Black identity, Jewish identity, and Pan-Asian identity. These discussions seek to provide community members with a judgment-free space to listen, reflect, and learn from one another. 

The series aims to build understanding of and support for minority groups within the school community by promoting student engagement on issues affecting those groups. Emily Heimer ’21, co-head of the Student Council on Diversity and Inclusion, said, “People are at different points in educating themselves, so this is one of the only opportunities where people can ask questions without feeling some sort of personal connection to their question where they are not just trying to defend themselves, they are trying to learn. I think that that’s really important in a community that supports the idea that we’re all just trying to learn and better ourselves.”

The Student Council on Diversity plans to have a Community Conversation for Black History Month in February.

Quotes have lightly edited for clarity.