With issues related to gender equity on the forefront of the national conversation, Derryfield’s very own Gender Equity club banded together with RADS (Racial Awareness at Derryfield) and GLOW (Derryfield’s LGBTQ+ alliance) to host a two-day conference that engaged over 200 members of the community in important conversations regarding age, race, sexual orientation, and gender—specifically, how we can understand these facets of identity and continue working towards equity for all.
Gender Equity club leaders Olivia "Livi" Burdette ’18 and Oliver Sattler ’18 oversaw the program, adapted from the very first conference held at Derryfield in 2017. This was originally the brainstorm of Tyler Crews ’17 and Naomi Durand ’17 who attended a similar conference at Waynflete School. While at the 2016 Student Leadership Summit, Naomi and Tyler outlined their goals and some general plans, and then reinvigorated the Gender Equity club during the 2016-17 school year to continue the planning. At the first conference, students from Derryfield and Hopkinton High School participated in workshops and discussions about topics such as feminism and the “Man Box.” “We had so much great conversation at the first conference that we wanted to expand it to two days and bring in more speakers as well as the two other clubs, RADS and GLOW, to participate in order to have a broader conversation about gender identity and empowerment,” Livi says.
Club advisors Ms. Llewelyn and Ms. Shutz secured speakers Skyler McCurine (Le Red Balloon) and Eric Barthold (“Man Up” and “Open Up”), who gave multiple presentations over the course of Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14. Both speakers engaged with seventh, ninth, and eleventh-graders during the school day on Friday, with Skyler focusing her presentation on self-empowerment, and Eric focusing his on the importance of fighting against pressures placed on boys and men. That same evening, Skyler and Eric presented again, this time in an event geared towards parents entitled “Breaking through the Confines of Gender Stereotypes.”
The events continued on Saturday, when students and faculty from Bedford High School, Holderness School, Hopkinton High School, and Derryfield convened for more focused presentations and workshops. This time, Livi and Oliver invited members of RADS and GLOW to lead parts of the conference; Makayla DeCesare ’18, Kellyn Johnson ’18, and Caleb Richmond ’18 of GLOW led a session about combating stereotypes, while Henna Malik ’18, Sammy Hinton ’18, and Bella Hoang ’18 of RADS spoke to attendees about the intersectionality of words and identity. Livi, Oliver, and Charlie Lynch ’18 also opened up discussion on the meaning of feminism in today’s society. In addition, Livi notes that on Saturday, Skyler “focused more on the importance of valuing yourself and empowering yourself to fight for what you believe in.” At the end of the day, Livi says that she and Oliver ran an “UnConference” (unstructured conference), which was meant to be a more open-ended and free-flowing discussion to wrap up what people had learned and talked about during Skyler’s, Eric’s, GLOW’s, and RADS’ workshops earlier.”
“Hopefully in coming years Gender Equity, GLOW, and RADS will continue to build upon what we did this year and continue to involve more students from across New Hampshire,” Livi says. At the end of the day, the Gender Equity conference is meant to be a place “where all Derryfield students can come and share their thoughts on gender, race, and LGBTQIA+ issues in a non-judgmental space.” By comparing the 2017 and 2018 Gender Equity conferences, it becomes clear that the club has a bright future at Derryfield.
With seniors Serina Li and Nancy Fortin at the helm of Gender Equity, juniors Suha Elsheikh and Erin Glosner joining Serina to lead RADS, and senior Ash Sullivan rallying the GLOW students, the 2019 conference is in good hands. In addition, this year Derryfield is partnering with Brewster Academy and Holderness School to jointly host and run the conference February 16-17, 2019.