ETHS students, staff participate in 2022 LGBTQ+ summit

This year, the LGBTQ+ summit was be held on March 4th. The first summit was held in 2017 as a part of ETHS’ Social Consciousness Series, which is the school’s active effort to make sure every student feels a sense of belonging. The summit allows LGBTQ+ students to speak on their experiences at school, hear from outside speakers and meet students in similar situations. 

“This provides a space for [LGBTQ+ students] to connect and …it’s really just to empower students to see themselves reflected in school,” ETHS biology teacher and past coordinator of the summit, Bill Farmer, said. 

 The theme this year is “Take pride. Take Joy. Take action.” ETHS students were given the opportunity to register for different talks, workshops and performances held from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2:05 to 3:35 p.m..

“In the past, it’s been a full day experience. … This year, it’s just sessions in the morning, lunch and then an all-group [closing],” Farmer said. 

The LGBTQ+ summit was not held for the last two years due to COVID-19 but finally made a return in 2022. The pandemic is mainly responsible for the new split sessions, meaning students will not all be eating lunch together like they did in the past. This is because there are limited places for students to eat lunch, but the adaptive pause has also affected the number of students involved in the planning of the summit. 

“Students just don’t know what [the summit] is because they’ve never done it before and they don’t know that they want to be involved in planning,” Farmer explained. 

While planning the summit, students determine themes, topics and speakers of interest. In addition, many teachers volunteered their time to work to plan the summit, including Farmer, who ran a workshop. 

“My workshop is more specifically focused on getting student input about what works well at ETHS and where there’s room for improvement,” Farmer said prior to the event. “We’re just going to facilitate some conversations to get feedback on how students feel in various classes and what might be ways to create more inclusive curriculum or to address homophobia or transphobia that may exist in certain pockets of this school.”

This workshop was one of many students were able to sign up for. The day started with a guest speaker. 

ETHS student Hilda Arellano said, “I loved how open and comforting the atmosphere was, and the guest speaker at the beginning was a great opener.”

As the day continued, workshops strived to include wellbeing into the summit as well as art. The day ended with students coming together once again for a drag show. 

“I loved the ending section…” a student who chose to remain anonymous commented. “Everyone came together and danced.”

Although the event is only one day, summits take months to plan, and, in the end, students and organizers feel it is worth the work to create a sense of togetherness at school.

“The primary goal [of the summit] is to bring students together to build that connection and sense of community around LGBTQ+ issues. Then, we build capacity for… what we can do in future years,” said Farmer. 

According to the anonymous student who attended the summit, the goal was achieved this year. 

“I never really realized how connected we can be as a community, especially with racial disparities that differ queer peoples’ experiences in society,” they said. “It definitely helped bring me closer to myself.”