CEESA Events, Discussion Panels, and Ally Week
Following two years spent on and off in distance learning, now more than ever teachers and students alike are recognizing the importance of making sure that the entire ISP community feels safe and welcome back on campus. Over the years, Spectrum Club, a student initiative founded in 2015 with the aim of making the school an inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, has hosted monthly panel discussions open to the student body. In addition, they, organized Ally Week to celebrate unity, held exciting movie nights, and hosted the first-ever student-run CEESA-Wide Pride conference.
Recently, Spectrum coordinated a whole-school Ally Week. A movie night was held for anyone who wanted to join and students were encouraged to dress in vibrant colors, a different one for each day, to show their support. The club also coordinated a pin-crafting workshop open to the school, giving students the chance to create their own customized badges and letting the LGBTQ+ community feel empowered.
“The point of the spectrum Club isn’t to constantly be on the go to solve issues of equality. We’re also there to create a space of safety and belonging for anyone at ISP, not just the LGBTQ+ community, but to make our learning environment a better place for all.” — Ace, panel discussion leader and member of Spectrum
ISP’s Spectrum co-advisor Jennifer Michalsky told us about the club’s hopes and how the Valentine’s day panel discussion unraveled:
“This year we have an active group of Upper Schoolers who have initiated a forum for discussing issues relevant to students, such as mental health and consent. Prior to Valentine’s Day, Spectrum hosted a panel discussion focused on relationships and aromanticism. The goal was to increase awareness about the diversity of feelings that teenagers may have, particularly focused on how to respect those who identify as aromantic or asexual. Spectrum’s members have many ideas about other important issues to discuss and invite other students and interested faculty to participate in future first Friday discussions, held the first Friday of the month at lunchtime.”
During lockdown, the club was able to host and run a virtual CEESA-Wide Pride conference on Zoom, with a full day of panels and discussions and participants from as far away as Shanghai and Egypt.
Elementary School also had a chance to participate in Ally week. A collection of picture books addressing various topics were read to students in lower grades.
“I have read some of these with kids and the conversations ALWAYS blow me away. Kids know so much even as young people and are so open. It’s always affirming when I read books like this with students”, said Tara Ethridge, an Elementary School librarian.
“One thing young people often suggest to me is to remember to use gender-neutral language when talking with kids. Not everyone identifies as we think they might.”
Spectrum Club has now for years been a way for students to connect and to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues both within the student community, in the Czech Republic, and all over the world. The club has gone to great lengths to ensure everyone feels safe and included at all times.