Queer representation and relationships

Queer representation and relationships

Inclusion at School

The word “queer” is an umbrella term for people who don’t identify as heterosexual or cisgender. Since its use as a derogatory slur in the 1980s, LGBTQ+ people have reclaimed the word, and the term is often used by younger queer people. 

Junior Cameron Arthur (she/her), who is transgender, said she thinks the large population of openly queer students at Inglemoor makes it less likely for queer students to be victims of discrimination. However, she still struggles with teachers and classmates misgendering her. 

 “I don’t bother correcting when people misgender me because I’ve just gotten tired of it, so I usually just rely on teachers to do that,” Arthur said. 

After coming out, senior Jack Budden (he/him) found it difficult to connect with other transgender students. Despite the presence of a queer community at school, he felt isolated due to a lack of personal connection. 

“Sometimes it’s more difficult to get connected because you’re more nervous about it because it’s so new, and it’s still a daunting experience, because you don’t just go up to someone and say, ‘Hey, are you trans? Let’s be friends,’” Budden said. 

Budden said that when he ran for Inglemoor’s cross country team, his coach and teammates were extremely supportive when he came out as transgender. However, he decided to take a step back from competing to start his medical transition.  

“It was really difficult to make a decision on because I would have to give up something. I would either have to keep running highly competitively as a girl but not be able to pursue how I identify, or I can pursue how I truly identify but then I lose that ability to competitively compete,” Budden said. 

Senior Amanda Berne (she/her), who identifies as bisexual, competes on Northshore School District’s girls lacrosse team and said the team is a safe environment to be openly queer. However, when she was playing on a different school sports team, she said there were false rumors that she sexualized her teammates in the locker room. Berne said her teammates were relieved when she started dating a man. 

“If you’ve been open with a man or open with a woman, people try to put you in one category or the other, like straight or gay. And there’s not a lot of fluidity or the ability to not put a label on yourself even,” Berne said.

Berne said she wants students to be informed enough about queerness to not expect queer people to use labels. To better educate students about queerness and to be more inclusive, the English department has included queer writers in their curriculums. Arthur’s English class is  studying “Flèche” by the non-binary poet Mary Jean Chan

“Their trans experience is so thoroughly injected into all their poems. That makes me feel seen, and also helps me understand and analyze their poetry better,” Arthur said. 

Classes such as Gender Studies, Contemporary World Problems and Global Politics also cover queer topics. Budden said his Global Politics class closely follows legislation concerning transgender rights.

“My teacher McQueen often talks about trans bills that are passing, and we stay very up to date on legislation regarding the rights of trans youth, so I feel like it’s not a topic teachers are afraid to talk about, which is a good thing,” Budden said.

Beyond representation in curriculums, art teacher Jin Ellis (they/them) said their goal is to create a learning environment where all students feel included. They said their role as the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club advisor and their openness about their queer identity allow them to build lasting relationships with queer students.

“It feels nice if students feel comfortable enough to express themselves the way that they want and to talk to me if they have feelings because that’s not something I had when I was a teenager,” Ellis said.

Additionally, Assistant Principal Ebonisha Washington (she/her) offers her office as a safe space for queer students and said she aims to be a role model for queer youth. Washington said there is still room for improving queer inclusion in school, especially regarding support for transgender people. 

“I’m grateful for advancements that have been made, and we have a long way to go. Our trans kids especially. And I feel like I just have to be that person. So my door’s always open,” Washington said. 

Growing Up Queer

When senior Mia Soto’s (she/her)* parents found texts between her and her former partner, she said there was a lot of yelling. 

“It was the scariest two weeks of my life because it was something that I didn’t anticipate and it was something that they didn’t expect either,” Soto said. “They’re pretty much in denial. They’re not really supportive of my sexuality, and they just sweep it under the rug because that’s what’s easier for them to do.” 

Soto said that after her parents found out she was lesbian, they restricted where and who she went out with. She said that this took a toll on her relationship and that it contributed to the end of her relationship.

Homophobia also impacted senior Maike Hudson’s (she/they)* relationship with her former partner. Hudson said that she and her partner received stares from other people when they held hands, which made Hudson reluctant to display affection in public. 

“It did take a toll on the relationship as someone whose love language is physical touch, and I don’t get that just because I can’t do that in public. I can’t do it at her house and also at my house. She wasn’t fully even comfortable doing that around my parents, even though my parents knew we were in a relationship,” Hudson said. “So, it was so rare for us to get that opportunity to just actually love each other.”

There is often an expectation for queer youth to come out to their parents, and this can affect their relationship. This pressure to come out is reinforced by the attitude that others are entitled to information about someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity. 

 Arthur said there’s a lot of pressure on queer people to come out, even if they aren’t ready to. She said that pressuring people to come out gives the impression that being queer is not normalized. 

“For me, I had to come out to myself. That was like my ‘coming-out culture,’” Arthur said. “I am very lucky because a lot of my family accepts who I am.”

Although Soto said she always thought she was lesbian, she first came out as bisexual. 

“I think I had internalized homophobia,” Soto said. “ I was pretty scared because no one else in my family ever came out like that.”

Sophomore Tori Van Winkle (she/they) said her parents found out she was pansexual when they looked at her text messages. Although she wasn’t ready to come out to her parents, she said her parents were pretty supportive. Van Winkle said she chose to be openly queer at school.  

“If you don’t like the real me, you don’t deserve to have the real me. I don’t want to put up any faces and masks,” Van Winkle said.

When School Technology Specialist Julia Brousseau (she/her) was outed in high school, she said she and her queer friends did not feel accepted because they had to navigate a school culture that was hostile to queer students.

“I actually had to switch schools. I went to Edmonds-Woodway, and when I was outed, I was harassed so badly that I switched to Garfield High School because I couldn’t go to school without being victimized and harassed.”

Brousseau said she appreciates the social progress that has been made since she graduated high school. In 2015, the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Washington said that marriage equality not only validates queer love, but also upholds practical civil rights. 

“The gravity of a piece of paper is that if I were to go to the hospital, and my wife knows that I don’t want to be kept alive after three days of no progress, the hospital would be making that decision and not my wife,” Washington said.  

Senior Rylee Knopf (she/they)* said that equality for people with queer sexual orientations and equality for transgender people are inextricably linked. They said the whole queer community must support transgender rights because this issue is important for the next generation of queer youth. 

“We are starting to seriously have trans issues on the ballot, that queer people need to be supporting these measures. So, when we’re talking about gender-affirming care, when we’re talking about school bathrooms, all of these issues, the queer community needs to show up in the way that it shows up for gay marriage,” Knopf said. 

Arthur said that being transgender has made her less afraid of confrontation and less ashamed of herself.

“Because I’m trans, there’s a certain aspect of knowing oneself,” Arthur said. “I have kind of interrogated every single part of myself just to be who I am. And so being able to look at myself and know all of that, this kind of helped me move through the world being able to interact with people with more empathy.”

Senior Nathan Hickey (he/they) believes that everyone can empathize and relate to each other across identities and experiences. He said that having even one queer friend can make a difference in a queer person’s sense of belonging. They still tend to question their identity, and when they do, they appreciate that their queer friends can understand this. 

 “It’s a special kind of problem that I think people can empathize with, but, again, hearing that ‘I’ve been in your situation before,’ is so easy to hear. I’ve never felt the stress off my shoulders [like] when I’ve heard something like that,” Hickey said.

Washington strives to prioritize marginalized students, and this mission is influenced by her experiences as a queer woman of color. 

“If you’re queer and you’re questioning, we’re out here and we’re doing things that are changing people’s lives,” Washington said. “There is joy in this world, and I hope that everybody gets to experience it, no matter who you are or what you’re up to, and being a good person is part of that.”

 

*Names have been changed for anonymity using a random name generator

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About the Contributors
Shirene Khandpur (she/her), Opinion Editor
Returning junior Shirene Khandpur is back for her second year at Nordic as Opinion Editor. She can’t wait to apply new skills while learning more in Nordic this year. Aside from Nordic, she’s also a passionate executive member of Model UN and a full IB student. Outside of school, she can be found scribbling in her giant sketchbook, making amateur zines or trying to pick up a new fiber arts hobby, but that’s when she’s not binge-listening to her favorite albums or taking walks with her dog. Her goals in Nordic for the 2023-24 school year are to bring fresh ideas and new approaches to writing, while also improving her photography skills and creating more engaging articles.
Senior Annika Wegener is beginning her first year on the Nordic News staff for the 2023-2024 school year. Following two years of leading a writer’s group for a youth organization, she is excited to join another community of writers! She looks forward to writing relevant articles that inform and engage the Inglemoor community. Outside of Nordic, Annika is pursuing her IB diploma and enjoys singing and creative writing.
Pia Adtani (they/them), Managing Editor
Senior Pia Adtani is Nordic’s 2023-24 Managing Editor. They’re thrilled to be back again working with friends they made last year, as well as excited to meet some new faces. Their ultimate goal for this year is to make Nordic a great work environment for staff while also continuing to sharpen their writing skills. Outside of Nordic, Pia enjoys listening to music or an audiobook, drinking tea, and continuing their education in Fashion and Pop Culture Affairs. 
Cate Bouvet (she/her), Co-Editor-in-Chief
Cate Bouvet is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Nordic News this year and is excited to lead Nordic’s staff in publishing relevant and engaging articles. In her third year on staff, she hopes to mentor new reporters and strive for objectivity. Outside of Nordic, Cate is also captain of Inglemoor’s cross-country team and volunteers at Seattle Aquarium. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, skiing, and spending time with family and friends. 
Iris Huang (she/her), Junior PR Manager
Sophomore Iris Huang can’t wait to start her second year in Nordic News as Junior PR Manager. She is excited to meet new people and improve her writing skills throughout the year! Iris swims for Inglemoor, plays flute in the school’s band, and participates in clubs like DECA and National Honor Society. Outside of school, she enjoys listening to music, sleeping, doing art, and hanging out with friends.

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