"It's important for people to open up and their minds to change."
These are the feelings that inspired Grade 7 student Katya to host an event in support of gender equality on October 11. As leader of the student group FAW Thought, Katya worked with her classmates to raise money in support of rights for the LGBTQ community, and more importantly, every person on Earth.
October 11 marks Coming Out Day, which is celebrated worldwide not necessarily as a day for people to "come out of the closet", but as a show of support for people who may feel threatened or discriminated against based on their gender or sexual identity.
"I'm proud of the students for organizing this event and wanting to make a difference," said Middle School teacher Catherine Knight. "They realize that they live in a world where they can love who they want, and they want to raise awareness to support people who can't do that."
The Middle School building was buzzing throughout the day, with booths set up to sell "I Heart Humans" t-shirts, rainbow-colored baked goods and a variety festive trinkets and gifts. Money raised will be donated to the Beijing LGBT Center. Students were able to sign a banner, pledging their commitment "to stand with humans of all genders, and sexualities in the fight for equality and fairness."
The celebration was the student-led group's first activity of the school year. They are building on momentum gained from organizing workshops at WAB's 2016 Global Issues Conference, where they led discussions with their Middle and High School classmates about equality and gender discrimination.
This year the group will be back at the Global Issues Conference, directing conversations and raising awareness about LGTBQ issues, illegal sex trade and more. They'll also be working on international campaigns, including the promotion of a program designed to empower women coders in Africa and China.