“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch gave this quote in To Kill A Mockingbird, summarizes the goal of Acceptance Week: treat everyone equal, for you never know who they are until you get to know them.
International Club kicked off Acceptance Week with a spirit day encouraging students to wear blue in support of the different cultures at Camas High. After school they held an open meeting for anyone who wanted to join. International Club began a discussion about a theme that was common throughout the week: intersectionality. Intersectionality is the idea that one individual could face several cases of discrimination. The club members closed the event by making multilingual valentines, providing translations of I Love You in a hundred different languages. “I think Acceptance Week went really well, I was impressed with the fact that there were students coming every day to the booths and meetings,” International Club President Megan Baffaro says.
The Gay Straight Alliance hosted Tuesday’s spirit day with everyone wearing red to show their support, and the after school meeting focused on the idea of privilege. The members got into groups and discussed the idea that some people have advantages that others do not. In an activity designed to represent this, each group was given a list of “privileges” and a certain amount of paper. Some had as many as eleven slips of paper, while some only had one. Each group was allowed to pick as many privileges as they had paper. Some of the privileges included “the ability to go use the restroom of your gender without fear of ridicule,” “acceptance from friends and family,” and “the ability to raise your your children without fear of government intrusion.” Some of the groups were able to pick several privileges while others could only have a few, demonstrating the unfairness that some people face. Gay Straight Alliance President Brenton Riddle was proud of how the week went. “Seeing people embrace this message and put in a lot of effort into making Camas High School a better place was really encouraging and the reason I hope Acceptance Week becomes an annual event.”
Wednesday brought pink to the school, with the International Human Rights Club beginning their after-school meeting with an open discussion about current world issues that affect human rights. Students discussed a range of topics from sex trafficking to international bans and what students can do to help with these issues; have educated conversations, get involved in peaceful protests and use any platform available to advocate for your opinions.
Students wore green on Thursday to show support for the Muslim Student Association, and at lunch henna tattoos were available for $1. At the meeting, members discussed how 57% of Americans say they know little about Islam and 26% know nothing, and how you don’t have to be Muslim to debunk Islamophobia. Bilal Manzer, the Muslim Student Association President, says “I feel like this week-long event helped establish the first step in understanding students from different backgrounds which is awareness. With that, the different clubs involved in the week-long event noticed an increase in their attendance and participation.”
Friday was the day for students to show unity by wearing white. Everyone had the opportunity to write a letter to a U.S. representative or senator about issues they felt strongly about in the school and the country. “I was most proud of students coming and writing to their legislators at lunch about issues they care about, as it showed how there are students willing to take charge and make their voice heard,” Baffaro says. To finish off Acceptance Week there was a showing at the school of Call Me Kuchu, a documentary featuring the struggles of the Ugandan LGBTQ community.
Acceptance Week’s message is one that students should aspire to every day. Accept others for who they are, and never judge until you have walked in their shoes.