Monday morning will mark a historic day in Milton history. Next Monday at assembly, we will gather to vote on whether or not to pass an amendment to make our student government more inclusive. Specifically, we will be voting on an amendment that makes the SGA council more accepting of transgender and gender non-binary students, as well as those students who are questioning their identity, by removing gender restrictions on certain positions.
As a brief aside, let me lay out a definition of terms. According to the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) website, transgender is defined as “a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate,” while gender identity is “a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary).” Therefore, a person could be biologically female in terms of sex assigned at birth but in terms of “gender identity,” that same person could identify as a woman, as a man, or as someone who doesn’t identify within the “binary,” meaning the standard two-sided identification system of man and woman. A person could be neither a man nor a woman, but instead gender non-conforming. These are all going to be useful terms to understand why we have proposed this amendment.
Now, you all know the standard SGA format: one boy and one girl occupy each position. It’s been that way for a while. It’s been that way since the Academy was a boys’ school and a girls’ school. This is just the way it’s always been done.
And this is the problem: as our world changes and as we make new discoveries about human nature, we are in some ways not adapting as we should, and our student constitution is one of those things that hasn’t quite caught up to the times yet. Our student government was created in a different world, a world in which identity was seen through a more old-fashioned, overly simplistic lens. We as a community in the modern age have moved beyond these archaic norms and have begun to accept the world and the people within it the way they are now. Or at least, we are starting to do so.
And this amendment we propose has been drafted to begin mending this broken structure to make it work better for everyone. This amendment chooses to take out these gender requirements for most positions in the council in order to accommodate those members of the community who are exploring their identity as well as those members who are simply trying to understand it.
Now some of you may have some questions. One of them is likely whether or not taking away gender requirements will make our student government into a boys’ club. Shouldn’t we just have two people of different genders and add a third category? Doesn’t that make logical sense? On face value, these fixes seem sensible enough. But, on a deeper level, we have to consider to whom exactly we’re gearing this amendment. We are not just trying to include transgender students who are confident in their identities; we are also trying to include those who are grappling with their identities and those who are unsure as to who they are. In high school, we are all trying to sort things out. We’ve all been through some sort of period of transition, and I’m sure we can all understand that transitions are incredibly sensitive times. Everything seems scary and uncertain. The last thing we want is to have to rush someone into anything. I would normally never use this phrase in a piece of writing ever, but we must ask: how can we “dare to be true” to ourselves and to each other if we are making others be people they are not, simply for a position in the student government? And is it our place to simply say to people that they should give up their fundamental right as a student to run for a spot on the council, simply because we can’t think of a structural accommodation? Is it our place to tell people when they have to choose? Is this who we are?
We must also ask why this is relevant to us. I mean, do we even have any transgender students? And is the population large enough for it to matter? To both of these questions, I simply say that assumptions cannot be made. If you know a transgender student, then you know that they go to school at Milton. If you don’t, you cannot be sure. Being a transgender person is not a matter of appearance. And in the end, even if there isn’t a large population at school, even one person of this identity matters enough to make it necessary that we act. When we as a student body will not join together to make everyone feel as if they have a home here, then we aren’t living up to our fullest potential as people. We not only must let people be themselves, but we more importantly must let people be comfortably themselves, regardless of who they are.
Lastly you might ask: why don’t we do a complete overhaul? Why are we leaving the Day and Boarding Monitors out? The answer is that, in order to make a neat and smooth transition, we must first acknowledge where we are now. Allowing two people of any gender to run creates a risk that only certain groups could have those positions. That is just a risk that our culture creates. In order to prevent a council completely made up of students of one gender, we have allowed for these two positions to stay the same so that, regardless of what happens in the first few years of this new process, there is always a safeguard against complete domination. Change, however necessary, should come in steps to be effective.
And once again, I return to our amendment, which is, in the process of taking gender requirements out of Class Rep and Head Monitor positions, meant to allow everyone to be a part of our student government. In the end, we cannot tell you how to vote. We cannot dictate your way of thinking. But, we can tell you why we believe this amendment so incredibly necessary to our community, and so we hope you will all give it the thought it deserves.
If any of you have any questions, please ask me or Avery or any of the members of the SGA. Thank you all.