Ally Week is a powerful opportunity for our boys to learn about celebrating differences, respecting those around them, and advocating for the safety and happiness of all students. Nationally, Ally Week is an effort to empower students to be allies to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning) youth and to stand up against bullying, gender stereotypes and name-calling in schools.
Ally Week kicked off with a Lower School Community Time led by our Third Grade Ambassadors and a Middle School Assembly led by Fourth Grade Teacher Lorenzo Bellard. Our Lower Schoolers explored what it means to be an ally, learned about famous allies in history, and brainstormed how A-S boys can be allies every day. Among the activities was a read aloud with Head of Lower School Stephen Warner. Mr. Warner read William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow, which tells the story of a young boy who loves to play with dolls, but his father will not give him one as a present because he thinks that dolls are toys for little girls, not little boys. Mr. Warner shared some of his own gender non-conforming experiences as a child, including his tendency to cry easily and his love of romantic love ballads, and discussed how gender stereotypes can hold students back from being their true selves.
In our Middle School Assembly, Mr. Bellard introduced Ally Week by defining the word “ally,” leading brainstorming sessions where the boys discussed in small groups how they can be an ally for people in the LGBTQ community, and confronting gender stereotypes through analyzing a graphic novel.
Throughout the week, Upper School students from Allen-Stevenson’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) visited each Lower School classroom to read books about gender identity, gender stereotypes, and different family structures. One book, And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, is based on the beautiful and true story of two homosexual penguins at the Central Park Zoo who adopted an egg together and raised the chick, Tango, as their own! After the read-aloud, the Upper School students talked with the classes about not using mean words or language and being friendly with people who are not like them, don’t look like them or believe what they believe.
During Monday advisory groups, our upper school boys discussed what it means to be an ally and looked at statistics from the Human Rights Coalition about LGBTQ youth and school. On Wednesday, the GSA led a “choose your own adventure” video game outlining the numerous life choices and potential consequences that LGBTQ youth face.
We are so proud to be part of such a wonderfully diverse community that comes together to support its members!
Thank you to the CL+D Co-Directors Devin LaSane, Lorenzo Bellard, Jennifer Vermont-Davis and Liz Storch for organizing the week’s events and providing so many helpful resources.