FCPS calls for gender inclusivity in high schools

Principals enlist in the push to make school events more gender-neutral in the years to come


Photo courtesy of Maeve Hennessy

Seniors Sydney Anderson and Charlie Peterson chat at lunch about upcoming GSA meetings and recent developments from the FCPS School Board on the topic of gender inclusivity.

Maeve Hennessy, Scoop Editor

What do Homecoming King and Queen, Mr. Spartan, and Powderpuff all have in common? Each school activity is traditionally gender specific to include either only girls or only boys.

This typical gender limiting trend is true for not only WS but for most Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) high schools. Each FCPS school has its own specific events and traditions that generally only apply to either female or male students. However, the FCPS School Board is leaning away from these gender specific school activities, and has asked all of the high school principals in FCPS to encourage gender neutral school events as soon as possible.

The board has asked principals to inform staff and students about this direction which WS principal Michael Mukai did in a breakfast meeting with the Leadership class. He informed the students about the new push for gender neutral activities in order to hear what they had to say and to encourage them to pass on this information to their peers.

“As administrators and as student leaders, one of our jobs is to be responsive to the community and to hear what they want,” said Mukai.

Mukai and the administrators do not want the student body to ever feel like they have been blindsided by a new change, so they wanted students to be aware of what might happen within the school and FCPS. They understand it affects the students the most, and they want to work with the students and not against them.

“Right now the first goal is to have the conversation: see what everyone’s thinking, see what they want,” said Mukai.

No matter the varying opinions, Mukai wants to recognize that whatever happens, the school’s goal is to work together to create a school environment where everyone feels safe and welcome.

“Especially now with the brand new building, it’s an opportunity to start new traditions,” said Mukai, “We’ll have new things that we’ll do, and there will be things that we’ll do differently than we did before. Things always change, and I think we forget that people always move forward.”

Though the school administration is respecting what their superiors have asked them to carry out, the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Co-President Charlie Peterson is not so sure if these gender neutral activities are what’s best for the students.

“It’s great that FCPS is trying to be more inclusive, but at the same time its bad because they’re not focusing on the big issues that have been going on,” said Peterson.

He explained that, for years, bathroom and locker room has been the big issue he believes should be addressed first. For LGBTQ students it is usually the general consensus that a policy regarding bathrooms and/or locker rooms at schools would be highly preferable to focusing on the extracurricular events.

“A lot of [LGBTQ] students feel afraid to even use the restroom at school because they’re afraid of harassment or getting yelled at,” said Peterson.

He suggests policies that allow students to use the bathroom for the gender they identify with or simply adding gender neutral bathrooms into schools. Peterson is also concerned with the level of student input that the School Board had when making their decision regarding gender neutral school events. Like Peterson, Leadership students are also questioning where the adults got their ideas from.

“Bring students in to give their opinions; bring transgender students in, bring a random sample even so it’s all students sharing their ideas and also so it’s not just the adults deciding things based on what they think students want,” said Peterson.