There’s not a core class on the injustices minorities face everyday, nor is there a class for the current events that are affecting our everyday life, like the black lives matter movement, Islamophobia, and LGBT+ rights. The Ann Richards School won’t let this stop our students from learning about these issues.
Recently clubs like GSA and Real Talk have been formalized and revamped for the new school year and are teaching students about social issues that might not be discussed in required classes.
Real Talk is a club that meets to have group discussions on social issues of all kind, with students from eighth to twelfth grade. GSA is the Gay Straight Alliance club at our school, available to high-schoolers to discuss predominantly LGBT+ issues and possible future solutions.
“I think it’s important to have these kinds of conversations because we are the high school students, who are eventually going to be the college students, who are eventually going to be the adults in this world,” Kai Bovik (10) said. “If we don’t learn about the issues that are affecting our world, we won’t know about them as we get older, and we won’t be able to fix any of them.”
Many students believe these clubs help further their education for the real world and how to one day fix these issues. Students come to these clubs for intelligent discussions that can help their way of thinking as well as having a safe space to share their thoughts.
“These clubs are mostly student facilitated, we’re really good at being respectful to each other, and maintaining a place of safety.” Emily Gentry (11) said.
Real Talk’s adult sponsor and facilitator, Ms. Pamela Mathai, and GSA’s adult sponsor, Ms. Kim Collins, both agree that school is the best place to create these safe places and have these thought provoking conversations.
“We talk a lot about empowering students, and that’s what we’re doing,” Mathai said. “I think it [school] is one of the best places for these conversations because tying it to our mission statement, if we’re trying to empower you all to ‘solve problems creatively and ethically’ it starts with the dialogue.”
These conversations are helping empower minority groups that feel silenced, as well as helping students better understand these issues from an objective and unbiased standpoint.
“Where else would you have them?” Collins said, when asked if school is an appropriate place for these conversations. “You think about how isolated some people are when they go home. I don’t think it’s gonna happen if it’s not happening at school.”
“School is a very appropriate place for these conversations because the youth are here, talking about these things that should be normalized, and shouldn’t be taboo to talk about” Ezra Morales (11) said. “Our political race is a real world issue, LGBTQ rights are a real world issue, people of color rights are real world issues. Youth needs to discuss this. Youth voices matter. Youth is going to be changing the world, be the movers and shakers of the world.”
These clubs are a strong addition to Ann Richards. Current social issues can’t always be discussed in class because not every teacher is comfortable with those conversations in their classrooms, don’t know how to moderate them, or they have nothing to do with the subject at hand. The students who attend these clubs are able to get their voice out. These clubs can be seen as a voice for the voiceless.