Petition is successful with 174 signatures
To: San Mateo Union High School District
Breaking the Gender Binary at Graduation
This campaign took a lot of work just by outreaching to other GSAs or spreading the word out about this campaign to all the students in the district; in the end, the success came from every individual that contributed and became a part of this petition, whether by forming it, spreading it, or just signing it. The campaign ended with the district deciding to allow schools have their seniors vote for what they wanted their graduation gowns to be. The senior classes can now choose whether they want a unisex color for their gowns or have everyone choose individually what color they prefer. Our strength came in out numbers.
What we, as the student body of San Mateo Union High School District, want from our district is to not be in sex segregated clothing in graduation. During graduation for several of our schools, we are told to be separated by our school's colors determining our sex given to us at birth. Not only does this create separation at a ceremony that promotes the unity and commencement of a student's class, but it creates further harm by even affecting transgender and gender nonconforming students to be given these two colors and showed as they are one gender or another. We understand that this is done to show the school's colors since there could be two, and separating by gender would seem like the most straight forward way. It isn't in our eyes. What we are asking the district to do is to find alternatives. There are several ways that this can be done in a way that is more appealing to the students and can make students feel more comfortable. The most preferable would be to have a unisex color for all students during graduation. If the administration would still prefer to have both colors of the school shown, there can also be the alternative of having a color on one side and the other on the opposite side. There is also the choice of having students choose their own color between the two school colors or to even alternate by last name. We know that this can not be done for students whose graduating year is 2014, so we want this to be done for San Mateo Union High School District for 2015 and on.
Why is this important?
We had asked students from Capuchino, Penninsula, Mills, San Mateo High, Aragon, Burlingame High, and Hillsdale why this was important to them. These were their responses.
"Students are not gender binary. In fact, they fall in many different places on a spectrum, especially in high school when teens are exploring where they fall on the gender identity spectrum. "
"This tradition presents more of a sense of separation at graduation than it does unity, because it does not allow students who do not conform to the gender binary the comfort that they deserve. By giving all students the simple choice to wear either green or gold or even a combination of the two, the students are given more freedom to make a choice regarding their own graduation and are able to come together as a community through the availability of a choice. "
"Students should not feel uncomfortable on the day they are recognized for graduating high school. If the student does not feel the gender color gown they are assigned is accurate or if they do not identify with either gender, they should not be forced to wear that color graduation gown. We need to change this style of deciding gown colors by gender because there are many students that may not be sure of their gender identity at this point in their life or have not told their families and friends yet. These students should not be forced to wear a color that labels them as strictly male or female. A last name or numbering off system of deciding gown color for graduation would alleviate the pressure of fitting a gender binary."
"I find it profoundly strange how we are told that as students that we are all different and that is is good to be that. From what I have taken from my high school experience is that we shouldn't allow ourselves to be defined by those around us and that who we are is solely determined by us. Yet if I can’t be who I am at my school due to gender specific roles that the school places on us then why try? School by itself is a difficult thing and its even harder when being told who to be. It comes to a simple thing “Let me be me”."
The reason we want this petition to be done is to end that gender binary system that schools in this district still have. There have been schools, such as Hillsdale, that have successfully been able to implement this into their school. This was not done without being given a reason to, a reason that revealed the urgency of this need for getting rid of the segregation.
A few years ago, a transgender student who had not been out to his parents was unsure what robe to choose. He had decided to not go to graduation because of this issue that he was facing. The part that had gotten many students the most upset was the fact that this student was also valedictorian. Not only had he missed out on his graduation, he had missed out on his chance to make a speech as the representative for the class.
We do not want this segregation to continue and to even create issues that escalate to students deciding that they can't go to graduation because of how uncomfortable they feel. We are making a stand together to speak out against this segregation and to make a change. We thank you for your consideration.