Now, more than ever, students are becoming more open about exploring their identity and are more comfortable with being their authentic self, but this has come with a big price. Laws such as HB2 , and movements such as the one to repeal the HERO act have had heavy impacts on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Through this investigative team we hope to not only explore the rights of transgender identifying students on a national level, but on a local level as well. We plan on starting small by examining the rights of transgender students, right here in our own back yard at ARS but eventually the hope is to look how transgender student rights play out throughout the city of Austin, the State of Texas, the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, other single-gender school networks and eventually transgender rights at a national scale.
In order to do this we must have a a team of dedicated, hardworking and educated students that will be constantly searching for more and never settle for less. Here is that team:
Danny Armendariz, 10th grade
My name is Daniel Armendariz. I am 15 years old, and I am a staff member for the Polaris Press. I joined the newspaper during my freshman year of high school, and quickly became very interested in journalism when I realized that my writing gave me a voice that I never realized I had.
I am a part of the investigative team that dedicates their time to researching information regarding LGBTQ+ youth, specifically transgender youth here at ARS. I am very passionate about this topic because I myself identify as a transgender boy, so this topic is very near and dear to me.
I, Daniel Isaac Armendariz, recognize the effects that could play out due to me being so open about my identity with the world. As a journalist I am to uphold the Journalist’s Code of Ethics, one of which is to minimize harm; I pledge to never willingly “out” a student that attends the Ann Richards School and identifies as transgender in acknowledgement of the fact that they may be asked to leave the school. I also pledge to withhold my own implicit bias regardless of my identity and beliefs.
Ally Wait, 11th grade
My name is Alejandra Wait and I am an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. This is my sixth year attending the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, and I have watched many of my sisters grow into women, while a few have grown into brothers. These transformations have been equally fascinating and natural to watch and appreciate. As we are in a school for young women, a few of my brothers have faced obstacles in order to stay welcome at this institute, but they have stayed strong and continued on the path to college acceptance and graduation… Because really, that’s why we are here: To graduate from college. That is why I support transgender boys remaining at all girls institutes (or vice versa) if they attended the school before their transition. They are not trying to cheat the system or cause problems, they are just trying to receive a good education in their own skin.
My goal in this investigation is to find out the protocols, rules, and regulations regarding transgender students at single sex schools, and to figure out the personal agendas or opinions of authorities in these schools.
I, Alejandra Wait, promise to uphold the Journalist’s Code of Ethics, one of which is to minimize harm; I pledge to never willingly “out” a student that attends the Ann Richards School and identifies as transgender in acknowledgement of the fact that they may be asked to leave the school. I also pledge to withhold my own implicit bias.
Ezra Morales, 11th grade
My name is Ezra Morales, I am 16 years old and a junior at Ann Richards. Though I am the sports editor for APP, I have a passion for LGBTQ+ youth activism, which began in my freshmen year. I organized GLSEN’s Day of Silence at my school and everything pretty much took off from there.
In April of 2015 I was invited to go to New York to Join GLSEN’s National Student Council (NSC) and I have been on the NSC since then, working with LGBTQ+ identified youth across the country to make schools safer for LGBTQ+ identified students specifically in grades K-12. Along with being on the National Student Council, I am also a member of GLSEN’s National Advisory Council, the local GLSEN Austin board of directors as a youth engagement leader and I am one of the main leaders for ARS’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA).
From the second semester of last school year (2015-2016) up until the present, I have been serving as a liaison between administration and students about issues of transgender students rights. My overall goal that I want to get out of this investigation is to create an open communication between students, administration and all other ARS faculty members about transgender students right and policy so that way I’m no longer being the only person trying to hear out both sides of the story.
I respect the ARS administration team, but I do find that there are gaps within the system and I have heard several different stories from each team member, so I would like to hopefully see them all jump onto the same page and be more clear in communication. I also respect my fellow peers and understand why they may be frustrated with the administration’s decisions, but I find there is a lot of bending of the truth and almost “attacks” on the administration team. Students may feel like the administration has let them down but again they never voice their concerns properly due to lack of communication.
I hope my experience in leadership, public speaking, previous reporting knowledge, my own personal knowledge and identity* will be able to help me bring a lot to this investigative team. Through this investigation I hope to provide a space where everyone can voice their own concerns and opinions in a healthy and respectful manner.
I, Ezra Morales, recognize the effects that could play out due to me being so open about my identity with the world. As a journalist I am to uphold the Journalist’s Code of Ethics, one of which is to minimize harm; I pledge to never willingly “out” a student that attends the Ann Richards School and identifies as transgender in acknowledgement of the fact that they may be asked to leave the school. I also pledge to withhold my own implicit bias regardless of my identity and beliefs.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Feel free to reach out to us anytime.
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