Kyle’s Column: Long Way to Go


Credit: WSPN Staff

In the latest installment of Kyle’s Column, Opinions Editor Kyle Chen questions the extent of WHS’ acceptance of members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Kyle Chen

Wayland High School is a self-proclaimed “safe space.” We pride ourselves on being an open, welcoming community that celebrates diversity and accepts differences. Regardless of your race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you have a place at our school.

This policy of acceptance reflected in WHS’ Mission Statement – “empathy for others” – is not a concept exclusive to our high school. From a young age, we are taught to be kind to our peers, no matter where and what kind of background they come from. In middle school, we learn the concept of BERT – belonging, empathy, respect and trust. As a community, Wayland has taught us from the start about the importance of being open-minded and accepting of others’ differences.

The WHS staff – led by a group of wonderful teachers and administrators – have taken the cause to heart, admirably championing open-mindedness and empathy through their own actions, large and small. From significant changes, such as the designation of the English wing restrooms as gender-neutral, to small details, such as the “safe space” stickers found on the windows of classroom doors, WHS faculty has firmly declared its support and acceptance of members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Unfortunately, the administration’s message has been lost among the masses that move through the halls of WHS. From the heart of the school, there has risen an ugly retort to the principle of acceptance, one originating from none other than the students. As a whole, we have heard the staff’s call only to turn our backs on the policies they urge us to follow.

There can be no other way to explain the cold reality for many members of the LGBTQ+ community here at WHS. How could one feel like they belong in a place where the word “gay” is perhaps the most commonly used insult among students? Homophobic slurs are, unfortunately, used by many members of the student body- more often as a joke than anything. Yet, much like how the use of a derogatory racial slur such as the n-word in the context of humor is not acceptable, saying “it’s just a joke, bro” does not justify the use of such language. And what’s worse, is that many students don’t even recognize that the mere use of the word “gay” in a derogatory context, however harmless it may seem, sends a message to people who are not cisgender heterosexual that their sexual orientation is inferior, that being gay is a bad thing.

We’ve managed to delude ourselves into thinking that we are a truly accepting community – when the truth may be that we really aren’t. According to a recent survey of 160 WHS students conducted by WSPN, more than half of the students surveyed (94) believe that, on a scale from 1-10, WHS’s acceptance towards members of the LGBTQ+ community deserves at least an 8. Interestingly enough, out of the 41 students surveyed that were either members of the LGBTQ+ community or questioning their sexual orientation, only 13 (a little under a third) of the students gave a rating of 8 or higher.

At the end of the day, WHS’ staff and administration can only do so much to create a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s up to us, the student body, to foster that space and truly respect the values that we’ve been taught to uphold. But we are failing to do so, and because of our negligence, WHS is not the open and accepting haven it should be for everyone.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.