Top 10 High School Feminist Teaching Moments of 2014

This has been quite a year for me as a feminist teacher and activist. Here are some highlights of an exciting year of #HSfeminism in action.

1. This past fall, journalist Kelley Lord visited my classroom to document the impact that teaching feminism at the high school level was making on my students. She wanted to see firsthand why my students–both boys and girls–strongly identified as feminists. Included in her video below are highlights from our annual International Day of the Girl assembly, which featured boys acting out a scene on bystander intervention and girls speaking out on street harassment. All of them discuss why taking feminism in high school matters. Watch the magic of #HSfeminism.


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Top 10 Feminist Teacher Highlights of 2013

A great deal of inspiring work happened in 2013 both in my high school feminism class and in my outside professional work to build a movement with other teachers, activists, and academics to bring women’s, gender, and queer studies to schools. Here’s my top ten favorite moments of 2013.

1. Launched a movement to bring women’s and gender studies to K-12 schools with other high school feminist teachers from across the country at the AAUW’s (American Association of University Women) first ever symposium, Creating Classrooms of Justice: Teaching Gender Studies in Schools. Hosted in partnership with the AAUW, I delivered the keynote and helped to organize the panels featured throughout the day. More than 50 educators and activists from across the country – from California to Massachusetts – met at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, for a day-long event. Special thanks to fellow activist, Holly Kearl, for helping make this event happen as successfully as it did. Everyone walked away inspired. To join the movement, email: gender-studies@listsrv.aauw.org

I delivered the keynote at the AAUW's first ever symposium on teaching women's and gender studies in K-12 schools. The symposium was held in St. Louis (photo credit: Holly Kearl).

I delivered the keynote at the AAUW’s first ever symposium on teaching women’s and gender studies in K-12 schools. The symposium was held in St. Louis (photo credit: Holly Kearl).

2. Brought my students to the United Nations in New York for a Girls Speak Out event to observe the second annual International Day of the Girl held every October 11. As part of observing IDG, my students held our second annual assembly and blogged about their experience. As a class, we continued to partner with the all-girls school, Shri Shikshayatan, in Kolkata, India and learned about global girls education, sex trafficking, sex selection, and sexual harassment in both countries.

Students from my high school feminism class attended a Girls Speak Out event at the United Nations for International Day of the Girl (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez).

Students from my high school feminism class attended a Girls Speak Out event at the United Nations for International Day of the Girl (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez).

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MAKERS Moment with Cherríe Moraga, Chicana feminist

Chicana feminist Cherríe Moraga and I at the MAKERS: Women Who Make America premiere in New York (photo credit, Ileana Jiménez).

Chicana feminist Cherríe Moraga and I at the MAKERS: Women Who Make America premiere in New York (photo credit, Ileana Jiménez).

In the spring of 1994 during my first year in college, Cherríe Moraga changed my life forever. Her essay “A Long Line of Vendidas” from Loving in the War Years gave me the language I would forever use to understand my brownness, my queer identity, and my feminism.

“To be a woman fully necessitated my claiming the race of my mother. My brother’s sex was white. Mine, brown.”

I recently met Moraga at the red carpet premiere of the MAKERS documentary Women Who Make America in New York. As I watched the first hour of the film during the premiere, I was excited to see a shot of the now classic 1980 photo of Moraga with Audre Lorde and Barbara Smith wearing their Kitchen Table: Woman of Color Press t-shirts. Kitchen Table was the first woman of color independent press that became well-known for publishing the groundbreaking collection This Bridge Called My Back.

Edited by Gloria Anzaldúa and Moraga in 1983, the pieces in Bridge paved the way for how we breathe, speak, and love feminism today. We only need mention these women’s names and we all immediately recognize the bridge they built for our collective feminist consciousness.

Anzaldúa, Lorde, Moraga, and Barbara Smith (who is also featured in MAKERS) were the women who revolutionized feminism. They were the ones who brought an analysis of race, class, and ethnicity to our critical discussions of gender and sexuality. They were the ones who taught us how to bring this intersectional lens to issues of education, immigration, labor, reproductive rights, and much more.

Indeed, they created the feminism we so revere and rally around today. Continue reading

2013 Speaking Engagements for Feminist Teacher: Ileana Jiménez

I presented at the National Women's Studies Association Conference in 2012 (photo credit: Veronica Arreola).

I presented at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in 2012 (photo credit: Veronica Arreola).

I have an exciting line-up of presentations and speaking engagements this spring. Please join me at one of these events and make teaching for social justice through feminism and activism a reality. Let me know if you’ll be there!

Feminist Teacher Featured on Melissa Harris-Perry Show

My national television debut on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show (photo credit: Cheryl Coward).

Yesterday, I was honored to be on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC. The show’s focus was on what makes a good education. Other guests who joined me throughout the four segments on education were:

Watch the first segment in which I talk about my class on feminism and activism for high school students. Watch the second segment in which I talk about the need to create safe schools free of bullying and harassment.

WBAI’s “Joy of Resistance” Features Feminist Teacher and Students

My student Carina Cruz shares her experience learning about feminism in high school. (photo, Ileana Jiménez).

Earlier this week, my students and I were guests on the radio show, Joy of Resistance, a feminist, multicultural radio show on WBAI hosted by Fran Luck and Jasmine Burnett (@blkfeminst). My students and I spoke on the importance of learning and teaching feminist theory and activism in high school classrooms.

Each of the students who joined me have done important feminist work both in the high school women’s studies class I teach as well as outside of the classroom. Carina Cruz, junior, is a SPARK bloggerSexualization, Protest, Action, Resistance, Knowledge—for a youth-led movement to stop the sexualization of girls and women in the media. Junior Dinayuri Rodriguez’s blog posts on our feminist class blog, F to the Third Power, have been so successful that one of her posts connecting Virginia Woolf’s argument in A Room of One’s Own to today’s low-earning feminist bloggers earned her a comment on the post from well-known feminist author and blogger Courtney Martin, of Feministing fame.

Emma Stydahar, junior, is also a SPARK blogger who recently spoke at the Meet Us on the Street anti-street harassment rally in New York. Finally, senior Grace Tobin found her voice testifying at last year’s New York City Council hearing on street harassment, landing her an interview with CBS, which led to a blogging internship with the Women’s Media Center. Grace also spoke at the anti-street harassment rally with Emma.

I was particularly moved and inspired listening to my students speak about how taking the feminism course has made an impact on their lives. Fran asked students if they could share how learning about feminism allowed them to name one thing in their lives that they could not name before, leading them to a feminist click. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

Guest Post: Feminism: Much More Than Women’s Rights

Meiling Jabbaar, former high school feminism student, and Ileana Jiménez (Feminist Teacher).

Last year, I launched an on-going guest post series written by my former high school students reflecting on the impact of learning feminism(s) in high school. To mark the beginning of the school year and to inspire teachers to bring a feminist vision to their curricula, I’m posting a piece written by my former student, Meiling Jabbaar, who took my course on feminism her senior year last fall. In this essay, Meiling teaches all of us that learning about feminism in high school made an impact on finding her voice. Meiling will be attending Brown University this fall.

Growing up as a young woman in today’s society, I have always been aware of issues that women, teenage girls, and even young girls face.  When I learned about the feminism course offered by Ileana Jiménez, who teaches in the English department at my high school, I realized that I would have the chance to discuss topics to which I could relate.  But little did I know how much of an impact the class would have on me.

My Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Women Writers, Artists, and Activists class, which I took during the first trimester of my senior year, did much more than expose me to the world of feminism.  In providing the space to talk about issues important to me, such as female stereotypes, issues of beauty, and how women are portrayed in the media, I learned ways in which I could solve these problems, while at the same time, I learned a lot about myself.

Before taking the class, the only thing that came to mind when I thought about feminism was women’s rights.  I soon learned that feminism entails so much more.  First, we focused on feminist theory.  We read the works of various renowned feminist writers, including bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, and Virginia Woolf.  I was overwhelmed and moved by their powerful pieces that analyze the history and roots of the struggles that plague the lives of women.  After reading these writers, my eyes were opened to what feminism truly represents. Continue reading

Speaking: Educating Girls Conference at the Chapin School

Today I will be speaking at the Educating Girls conference sponsored by NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools) to be held at the all girls Chapin School. The title of my workshop is “Engaging Girls in Feminist Activism.”

I will begin the workshop with the following video highlighting some of the most exciting moments of my course Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Women Writers, Artists, and Activists between the years 2008-10.

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Feminist Teacher Celebrates First Year Blogging

This weekend I’m celebrating the first year of founding and blogging at Feminist Teacher. When I created this blog, my goal was to carve out a space to share my work as a feminist high school teacher and for fellow feminist educators to find a space to talk about the role of feminism in schools. As part of celebrating my first year blogging, I’m taking a look back at 2010 and my work as a feminist educator-activist:

Guest Post: Learning Feminism in High School Led to My College Choice

Alexandra Garza

My name is Alexandra Garza and I was a student of Ileana Jiménez’s at Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI). Before I was a student and now friend of Ileana’s, I had only known her contagious laugh heard frequently throughout the hallways. As time passed, I saw her at school assemblies encouraging students to get involved in various panels, lectures, and discussions on race, class, and gender. For some time, I’d been interested in joining these discussions Ileana so passionately advocated. I took my curiosity into consideration when selecting courses for my junior year. I was definitely lured in by Ileana’s passion. I decided to jump into the conversation head first by signing up for Ileana’s literature course, Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Women Writers, Artists, and Activists. Aside from the fantastic title, I had a feeling this class could change my entire life. Continue reading