On February 1, 2019, Kent Place’s GSA hosted the first Project Prism, an evening event where high school students discussed LGBT+ topics through an intersectional lens.
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The event was fun and full of energy. When students were not snacking on Chef Froyardee’s cookies and Hint-of-Lime-flavored Tostitos, dancing to Hayley Kiyoko and King Princess, or socializing with old and new friends, they participated in thought-provoking activities and discussion groups. Topics included intersectionality, active allyship, mental health in the LGBT+ community, reclaiming language, feminism and the transgender/non-binary community, LGBT+ representation in media, safe schools, and more.
“[Project] Prism was a great opportunity to have meaningful discussions with new people. I really appreciated the chance to have discussions I normally don’t have at my school.” –Juan Hermo, Delbarton ‘19
Project Prism was truly a safe, positive, and supportive space where all students could be themselves. Germain and Gomez attribute this to the attendees’ dedication to respect and kindness, a crucial aspect of the night which could not be planned in advance.
The night was almost jeopardized by an after-school fire alarm, which resulted in burst pipes, flooding, and other issues in the main building. With help from Ms. Woodall, Ms. Murphy, Ms. Gordon, and many students, Vivienne Germain and Anna Gomez (GSA Co-Presidents) were able to quickly organize a last-minute location change from the Great Room to the Commons Room in Mabie House. The student facilitators were flexible and did an excellent job running discussion groups without their slides and visuals. Despite the chaos preceding the event, Project Prism ran smoothly and successfully.
“The event came together so well, and it went better than I ever could have imagined! It was so nice having candid conversations with my peers about [LGBT+] topics.” –Zarah Bari, KPS ‘20, Project Prism facilitator
Though it was focused on LGBT+ topics, Project Prism was open to all high school students. The many allies at the event highlighted the strong support that LGBT+ students have among their peers in our community.
Furthermore, students attended from Pingry, Delbarton, Oak Knoll, Summit High School, and Chatham High School, which allowed for new connections to be made and different perspectives to be shared. However, from a diversity standpoint, not all voices were represented, and those that were represented were not represented proportionally. Hopefully, future Project Prisms will be more diverse.
“Project Prism was incredibly valuable because it enabled me to hear the experiences of LGBTQ+ students and allies from neighboring schools. Connecting with students from outside of Kent Place highlighted both the strengths and faults in how we handle queer topics within our environment.” –Jenna Smith, KPS ‘21, Project Prism facilitator
Many Kent Place students anticipate this was only the first of many Project Prisms. While the event may grow, change, and look different in future years, its joyful and affirming spirit will surely remain the same.
Photos by Biz Stahl, KPS ‘20 and Claire Chou, KPS ‘21
Germain and Gomez extend their sincerest gratitude to Project Prism’s student facilitators and student volunteers, as well as Dr. Schwartz, Ms. Justice, Ms. Gordon, Ms. Woodall, Ms. Murphy, Mr. Weathersby, Dr. Porterfield, Mr. Reid, and Ms. Every. This event would not have been possible without them.