Diversity at Friends

Ryan Hardy, Opinion Editor

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In lieu of the recent surveys about diversity, I have been thinking about how diverse Friends is as a school. I have been at Friends since 2007 and throughout my time here, I have heard that “there is that of God in everyone” from students and teachers alike. When I think of Friends, compared to other schools in the Roland Park area, I see us as a more open community, yet some students still struggle to find a niche in our fast-moving school. This has been a common theme not only visibly, but audibly in the speeches we have heard from students running for senate and co-president positions.

Our school has done many things to keep our community aware of the privileges we have as Friends students and even had a position for a director of diversity, but some students feel that we have a long way to go in educating our student body about respecting and teaching it. One of the extracurricular clubs for diversity, our GSA, has made a great step towards making our school more friendly towards students who don’t feel comfortable using gender binary restrooms. Friends now has unisex restrooms in the Lower, Middle, and Upper school for those students. However, many of these restrooms, such as the designated one in the US and Forbush buildings have been locked and require a faculty key to get in.

In recently speaking to a senior, I was given a very different and quite angered take on diversity at Friends School. S/he as a racial minority in the Friends community feels that our school “claims that they’re diverse, but they’re not”. S/he has noticed that there isn’t much of a community for kids of her minority in the Upper School. This student has been working towards getting his/her voice heard through attending the diverse voice meetings during L-Blocks, but s/he, quote, “Felt that the same voices were being heard” and doesn’t “think Friends is going to do anything about it.”

So, as a school, how do we fix this problem and create a more diverse community, where we can have people from a wider range of backgrounds. Whether these be socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, or political, it makes a community more open-minded when we are surrounded by a diverse group of thinkers. We shouldn’t just leave this up to the school administration, but we as hound be working as a community to let all voices be heard without the fear of being attacked. I witnessed the attacks of more conservative voices at our school too many times, and in my opinion they just make everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe to speak out. As the senior I talked to said, “Students need to be more mindful of what they say.” If you feel like you aren’t being represented appropriately, you should feel open to speak about it with other students and teachers. In conclusion, what we can do as a community is be more mindful of those around you and find ways to get involved with advocating for those around you who may not feel comfortable in our Upper School.

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Diversity at Friends