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    Student Voices: Trans Activist Rexy Amaral Returns to Her Alma Mater, Mission High, to Educate and Help Students

    StudentVoicesBy Jenn Bowman

    (Editor’s Note: Teacher Jenn Bowman of San Francisco’s Mission High School is teaching LGBTQ Studies. In this column, Bowman’s students share their thoughts about LGBTQ-related matters, including their concerns, what they have learned in class and more. The following piece was written by Blanca, who is in the 10th Grade.

    Last week, Rexy Amaral, an LGBTQ+ activist and former Mission student, came to talk with us about the work she has been doing with Somos Familia and the GSA Network. She also described what it was like to be a trans student at Mission.

    It was really interesting to hear about Somos Familia. I could really relate to why the work that they are doing is so important to the Latino community. Somos Familia offers education and support for LGBTQ+ families in both English and Spanish. It is for those with loved ones who are coming out or transitioning. Rexy told us that the machismo attitude that is a part of the Latino community makes it especially difficult for some Latino people who don’t fit the old-fashioned binary role of boy or girl.

    Rexy described a time when her own mom had gone to a workshop presented by Somos Familia. Her mom came home and told Rexy, “I learned so much and I know that a person’s gender is different than their sexuality.” Rexy laughed about this, and told us that she was surprised her mother had learned so much.

    Not all of Rexy’s family is so accepting. Some family members tell her, “You were born a guy so you should stay a guy.” This reminds me of the things I have been taught in my own family. My family is from Mexico, and they are very religious. When I was young, I liked to dress in baggy jeans and sweatshirts. They always made me wear skirts. My dad would always tell my brother to “be a man.” I don’t think they would be accepting of me or my brother if we were LGBTQ.

    Rexy didn’t have a great experience at Mission. She graduated in 2015, and when she was here, there wasn’t a transgender bathroom. She was told to use the staff bathroom because some girls were complaining about feeling unsafe when she used the ‘girls’ bathroom. Rexy said that having access to only a staff bathroom was difficult for her because she would have to chase down a security guard to have them open a bathroom.

    While she was at Mission, Rexy also felt like she was responsible for educating the staff and students at Mission about issues that LGBTQ+ students face. She talked about how ‘burned out’ she was about educating Mission High School administration and teachers about LGBTQ+ issues, and how little support she received. After taking a break from work as a full-time activist and student, she worked at a catering company. Now, she is devoting her energy to Somos Familia and the GSA Network.

    I want to thank Rexy for coming to Mission and for all the work she is doing for the LGBTQ+ community.

    Mission High School: https://mhs-sfusd-ca.schoolloop.com/

    LGBTQ Scholarship Opportunities: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/52c7dc91e4b0c06fbd156f6b/t/53b63fb8e4b079c1947dbdfa/1404452792563/LGBTQ.pdf

    JennBowman