March 8, 2018, Thursday, the Teen Group meets to socialize, make crafts and eat snacks. Today we had seven young women gather with wooden craft sticks and yarn to make turtles. As the facilitator/group leader, main snack provider and adult, I am to guide the conversation, not as a teacher or counselor, but as a caring adult in the lives of young people, who come to the library as a safe place.
I started the conversation with, “What did you do in school today to honor International Women’s Day?” Apparently, the day was like any other.
“What?! There’s a day just for women? Where’s ‘International Men’s Day’? Oh, there isn’t one.” (Men’s Day is on November 19) The members of the group seemed almost offended to have a specific day set aside for women. We discussed some of the women in the book, She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton, Philomel Books, 2017.
“Yes,” they agreed, “these women did great things that still impact us today. They changed the world for themselves and for future generations, like ours.”
“BUT, women should be appreciated every day. All of them should be regarded as strong. It takes a lot of strength to be persistent. We all just want equality, in all ways”, the group proclaimed. Then something I was not quite prepared for happened. I just wanted to honor and boost confidence in these young ladies and their thoughts turned to gender-nonconforming people.
“What about having a ‘Non-gender Binary Day’?” Wow, these young people are really socially aware. I am always impressed by their convictions. Later, I was reminded that the High School made national news because of the “Bathroom Dilemma” during the Obama Administration.
I told the group I had just finished reading The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young People, 2017. The teens considered the use of the pronoun “they” for gender-nonconforming individuals, and that the person usually changes their name so as to not identify them as male or female. They understood the concept of agender. We talked about the Gender-neutrality Milestones listed in the back of the book. They were getting more excited about the progress other countries were making and that America was not doing enough.
The Teen Group recognized that International Women’s Day should be a reminder of all the women who broke down barriers for all people. The Gender Identity Issue is just the next barrier in “Equality for All”. Teen Group is never boring. Sixth to Twelfth graders meet Thursday during the school year at 3:45pm.