INSIDE DESIGN TEAM: GLSEN AND THE SCHOOL BOARD MEETING
This spring, Wide Angle’s Design Team collaborated with the LGBTQ+ group GLSEN (pronounced "glisten") and the Baltimore City LGBTQ Commission on a project about how transgender and gender nonconforming students are treated in schools based on their identity. Every day, these students are ostracized for who they are, and not just by their peers, but by their teachers and administrators as well. We were tasked with creating a poster that GLSEN could take to Baltimore City Public Schools’ school board meetings in order to give the board an extra “push” into passing Policy JBB. This policy would allow transgender and gender nonconforming students in Baltimore City Public Schools to be acknowledged as the gender in which they identify and to use facilities aligning with their identity.
Beginning this project filled us with an immeasurable amount of hope. The fact that an issue that had been long ignored was coming out into the public eye gave us hope for our future and the futures of our friends and peers. Although the fight is nowhere near over, this project was a step in the right direction.
First, we visited Globe Collection and Press at MICA to hand letterpress our posters; this involved arranging letters (known as moveable type) into the “bed” of a press. Using a rolling drum mechanism to paint them over with ink, we printed words and patterns onto a piece of colored paper. Our client from GLSEN, Mr. Jabari, was with us every step of the way, from the original inception of the idea to the final steps of printing in the shop. He then invited us to accompany him to the school board meeting with our posters to show off our work and represent student voice.
The actual board meetings lacked a little in engagement, but what they lacked in action they made up for in progress. Every student was heard, regardless of their age or identity; whenever the main point of equal treatment was brought up, we would all hold up our posters in solidarity. In the end, with one last supportive push from one of the board members, the bill was passed with a unanimous vote! It marked a triumph for LGBTQ+ youth everywhere. However, this is not the end of the fight–far from it actually–it’s only the beginning. Hopefully, in the near future, we can see more progress and less regress, for our youth’s sake.
Hi there! We are Ke’Asia Alston and Aiara Manning, members of the Design Team at Wide Angle Youth Media, and students at Western High School. We worked very hard on this project and this blog post, and we hope to be given the opportunity to write more blog posts in the future.
Funding for the Design Team is provided by OSI-Baltimore.