Lauren Barnes ‘23, News Reporter
This past week has been a very successful one for the representation of the LGBTQAI+ community. Dancer, singer, actress, and Youtube personality Jojo Siwa came out as being a part of the community. Jojo posted a picture to her Twitter account of her wearing a t-shirt that read “Best Gay Cousin Ever”. After this quickly became one of the top trending topics on the internet, Jojo posted a 15 minute Instagram video addressing some of her fan’s questions and revealing that “I always believed that my person was going to be my person and if that person happened to be a boy, great and if that person happened to be a girl, great!” Jojo has yet to label her sexuality.
Up until this point, parents and their children have seen JoJo Siwa as a Dance Moms star, an up and rising YouTube teen, or the reason their children insist on wearing large pink bows and a side ponytail. But now she may be something a little more meaningful for parents and their children: a gay icon. Many mothers have expressed how grateful they are that Jojo, who was a wonderful rolemodel to begin with, is now showing that she is proud to be who she is. @AsenathMagic wrote on Twitter: “My 12 yr old daughter just ran in to tell me, she was psyched! This is the generation that will hopefully, finally accept people for WHO they are, not who they choose to love.”
Also this week, Joe Biden signed an executive order to repeal a Trump-era ban on most transgender Americans joining the military. Trump’s ban has been rebuked by the Democrat-led House of Representatives and condemned by LGBTQ activists as discriminatory. This has been a large step in the right direction for the LGBTQAI+ community, specifically transgender indentifying individuals.
These events have one major factor in common. They both work to make communities more inclusive, and help to validate LGBTQAI+ individuals. Mercersburg is a community that prides itself on being as inclusive and supportive as possible. However, are there some things that the staff and students could be doing to make it even more inclusive? I spoke with Mercersburg staff and fellow students about how they think we can make Mercersburg a more welcoming and supportive community for students who identify as transgender and non-binary.
Mel Cort ‘23 stated that “Asking for, and then using, pronouns needs to become a part of school and community norms. The same applies for names – what is be on the roster isn’t always what someone might go by.” They also told me that Mercersburg is working on creating a more comfortable environment in the dorms. “I know a group of students and faculty – including myself – are working on our dorm policy committee. We’re focusing on how to handle same-sex relationships in dorms, finding comfortable housing for students who are transitioning, and making the dorms a safer space for post-transition kids. Working on the policy is a lot of progress, but I’m hopeful for when we start implementing these practices and improving upon them while in action.”
I talked to Ms. Woody and she also spoke on this topic. She informed me that “In January, Mercersburg started officially working with The Venture Out Project (TVOP). The consultants from TVOP are supporting our LGBTQIA+ committee, comprised of students, dorm deans, student life and DEI representatives, in creating structures to make queer identifying students feel like Mercersburg is a place where they can truly belong to the community. Additionally, TVOP is providing some of our faculty members with a trans-inclusion training, which will hopefully encourage our community to keep challenging ourselves to grow in terms of our inclusion and co-conspiratorship to this community.”
Mercersburg is just beginninng to implement these inclusive changes, but we appear to be moving in the right direction.