This symbol, gender-neutrality, is comparable to a flag one puts to describe their heritage. However, it is seldom visible to the public unless the conditions or moments are right to share this “hidden or unseen” information. Similar to the white surrendering flag, waving this as a sign that “I” would like to communicate sometimes goes unnoticed or ignored. It could be sexual orientation, gender, age, able-ness, race, etc; there is no limit to which flags or hands wave to show someones pride.
I am not the only one within the U.S. or the world that is overlooked, stereotyped, or under-appreciated in regards to the various identities that make me/you, Me or YOU. However, being within a higher education setting, in which, on a daily basis we contend with the ever-changing undergraduate environment; which flags are we raising?
I understand that the profession is not meant to mimic the United Nations but to some degree, we hope to broaden perspectives so that students respect, appreciate, and welcome new people into their lives. Institutions are meant to improve skills and teach a “higher” learning that often fails students on the “how to be more human.”
To raise the flags of those who attend the institution, whether in service or presence, is no different than going through the lunch line with cultural spices that give some
“taste” into others lives. This might be a sign that “we accept” where you come from, however, a tea party to pretend is not sufficient to explain the time, preparation, growth, or struggles it took to obtain ones identities. The same can be stated in programs (ex: walking a mile in her shoes or safe zone); you can experience the high heels a woman wears or listen to testimonials from people, but you will never share the same experiences and on a college campus, every place should be a safe space.
It has become too common to steer students to the resources with “expertise” to handle the conversations that as a professional can develop great insight to who we are and trust in the students who confide in us. It has also become simple to think about an initiative to alleviate some campus issue. When did human interaction become second rate? We might talk with students about how courageous it was to come out, important it was to address someones language, or thank them for their speech at a banquet; but what will students remember?
They will remember when you did more than glimpse at their flag, when you stood to follow the movements and see the stitches that made this one, proud waving individual unique.
Whether you were born outside the U.S., worship or live without a god, or fall into categories unknown to the world; the same wind blows the flag waving proudly next to yours.