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    Student Voices: On Accepting Others’ Truths

    By Lyndsey Schlax

    (Editor’s Note: Teacher Lyndsey Schlax of the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts launched the nation’s first on-site high school LGBT course in 2015. She has just resumed teaching that groundbreaking class. In this column, her students share their thoughts about LGBT-related matters, including their concerns, what they have learned in class and more. All of the following pieces were written by 12th graders.)

    On Accepting Others’ Truths

    The foundation of social justice has to be understanding and accepting others’ experiences as true. Without that, we have nothing. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine came out as genderqueer. This means they don’t identify as either a man or a woman, and use gender neutral pronouns (they/them/their).

    When this friend first came out as gender non-conforming, I struggled with understanding their point of view. How could they possibly feel the way they did? I spent more time wondering why they felt this way, rather than just accepting them for who they were. However, once I came around, I found myself not only accepting my friend, but also advocating for other non-binary individuals.

    This story is not only true for my friend and me, but also for many allies who have similar stories. We need to move on from solely individual acceptance, and move to a place where society accepts people for who they are, regardless of whether or not they conform. This is what starts with accepting others’ truths as just that … true. As ideas of “fake news” circulate in the media, I’m finding that increasing numbers of people are unlikely to believe what others are saying. If we have any intention of promoting equality and acceptance, we need to move away from these ideas, and return to a place where someone’s word means something.

    Leaving San Francisco

    San Francisco is a bubble full of optimism and acceptance. This city is one of the greatest in the world, in my opinion, but I’m just a teenager born and raised in this city. Often times I think about what will happen when I go to college and if the place I end up at is not as liberal and accepting. How will I say how I feel without looking completely out of place? How will I be accepted if everyone else is conservative and not as open minded as someone from San Francisco is? I know it will be challenging to find myself and how to express myself if I’m not in San Francisco, or even the Bay Area.

    Although thoughts about the feature scare me, I have to face them. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t be scared of what people thinks and I how I will fit in. Growing up here has made me who I am: I have been to school walkouts, the pride parade and more. Through all of this, I found that I should be proud of who I am and what I believe in, and not let anyone tell me different. So, wherever I am in the future—whether a liberal city or not, an accepting, largely optimistic city or a small conservative city—I should always stay true to myself. If no one understands that, that’s fine, as long as I know where I stand and I don’t alter my beliefs to fit into a society. 

    LGBT and Me

    My queer is 
    purple lipstick and skinny jeans.

    Button downs and charm bracelets,
    smoky eyes and stilettos.

    Self-expression and self-acceptance.

    Finding the joy in every moment,
    finding the good in every person.

    Following my heart, but not forgetting my mind. 

    Falling in love, but not forgetting to love myself.

    Shiny gold jewelry and combat boots.

    And, of course, 
    way too many scarves.

    My queer is who I am.

    This is my queer,
    and I encourage you to explore yours as you follow our class’s column this year.

    For more information about the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, please visit