Guest Post: Sex+Gender: Reading Dangerous Language in High School

“My name is Lola Lorber, I’m a freshman, and my preferred gender pronouns are she, her, and hers.”

Lola Lorber

This is how we introduce ourselves on the first few days of classes at Oberlin College. To some it may sound weird, funny, or redundant; but at Oberlin, it is the norm.

I am proud to say I believe in sex positivity and freedom of speech. I’m a vegan, and I like to laugh. I’ve recently gotten into stand-up comedy because I like being able to say things into a microphone and make myself loud and heard. I am proud to make people laugh. I am proud to be an LREI alum (Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School).

The first elective course I ever took in high school was a memoir writing class my junior year. In this class, I discovered my voice, my identity, and my love for telling stories. In the fall of 2007, we were an intimate class of ten students consisting of a mix of juniors and seniors, and one teacher, Ileana Jiménez (also known as Feminist Teacher). We met almost every day in a hidden corner of the library–and it was here where our lives were shared and merged with each other’s. My peers would read aloud their pieces to the class revealing their true selves. With assigned readings from published memoirs and writing prompts given to us by Ileana, we were all immersed on a journey of our own words. I quickly became familiar with my humorous and sincere voice and I knew that I would continue to embrace it in my future. Continue reading

Guest Post: From Little Red to Big Red: Becoming a Feminist in High School, Creating Change in College

Jenilssa Holguin

After being at LREI for four years, speaking about diversity and feminism became second nature to me. The classes that I took–such as Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Women Writers, Artists, and Activists; Queer Identities: LGBT Literature and Film; and Memoir Writing–paired with the student diversity conferences that I attended, as well as the series of speakers that we were lucky to have at my school, all made issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality prevalent in my mind. During my years at Little Red, one of my teachers, Ileana Jiménez, helped me find myself, develop my feminist identity, and be proud of who I am. I learned to do diversity work in my everyday life.

When I got accepted to Cornell University I was ecstatic. It was my first choice, and I was going to be the first in my family to go to college. I thought,“It’s a huge school, so I am sure that I can find people who share my views on diversity, since Cornell is pretty diverse.” Boy, was I wrong! During my first weeks there, I noticed how racially segregated my field of hospitality management was as well as the University as a whole. I was taken by surprise when I saw that two clubs that I was interested in were completely segregated. One was all white, and the other was made up of all students of color. Naturally, I joined both, not only because I was interested in both clubs but also because I wanted to get at the root of the problem. Continue reading

New Series on the Impact of Teaching and Learning Feminism(s) in High School

This week I am launching an ongoing series of guest posts from former students reflecting on their experience of learning feminism(s) in high school. The inspiration for this series came from my students, who each day teach me that they too want to be a part of feminism as activists, artists, and academics.

When I founded this blog at the close of 2009, I wanted to begin a conversation with feminist educators in K-12 schools about the work they do in their classrooms as feminists. Within a month of starting the blog, I posted a letter that a student of mine had written to President Obama calling for implementing a feminist curriculum in our K-12 classrooms.

My student’s letter created a response from a variety of bloggers, including a post at Feministing by Courtney Martin and one from Anna North at Jezebel. Needless to say, I was honored by this affirmation of my student’s call to action and my work as a feminist educator.

But even with that wonderful response, I still wondered: Am I making a difference in my students’ lives? Is learning feminism in high school making an impact? And if so, would the voices of my students inspire other educators to make change in their classroom and in their schools? Continue reading