LBHS clubs promote inclusion

In recent years, there has been a strong commitment across our varying communities to better understand and dignify all genders, races, nationalities and sexualities. Consequently, the world we live in today is vastly different from that of a decade or so ago. People are more confident in embracing themselves than they had been in the past. Even though the world works towards becoming more accepting and inclusive, there is still room to improve in our local community.

“It’s apparent that [LBHS] strives to be as embracing as possible through programs like No Place for Hate and clubs that promote acceptance, but I think a problem with these clubs and programs is that they only really appeal to people who are already pretty accepting,” said LBHS junior and Vice President of the Queer Straight Alliance Club Christian Yates. “It’s a challenge we face in our club, too. In my opinion, the problem…in the community is that ignorant people typically don’t go out of their way to become more accepting.”

The members of the Queer Straight Alliance Club seek to educate the community regarding the experiences of marginalized groups.

“We aim to dispel stereotypes about LGBTQ+ students and increase awareness of the issues we face through a positive environment that welcomes everyone. We plan to do this by creating a friendly and informative dialogue about gender and sexuality,” said Yates.

Another club at LBHS, the Embrace Club, aims to combat that ignorance as well as encourage individuality for its members and all students. 

“What we aim to achieve for LBHS and in the community is to be okay with every difficult situation that comes our way— to have those difficult conversations but with people you can trust and call a friend. We plan to achieve these goals by sharing stories, expressing ourselves to one another and to ultimately have a meaningful impact on our members and community,” said members of the club.

Laguna Beach is sometimes isolated from many social issues that occur around the world, and it’s hard to realize that issues still exist here. There is a history of hate and prejudicial actions at LBHS and in the community. It is imperative that we try our best to stop these problems from occurring.

“While the treatment of students of color and students of different faiths has improved, I think this is the area where we still have the most work to do,” said AP U.S. History teacher Kristin Cowles. “As the Brush and Palette reported two years ago, there is still anti-Semitic language and behavior that some students continue to exhibit. I’ve also heard of Muslim students who experienced similar, anti-Muslim behavior and language.”

Much of these actions stem from ignorance and not understanding the real meaning of what someone says. You never know who your words could impact or hurt.

“I truly believe that understanding and empathizing with people different than you is vital in combating hate. If you have a friend that exhibits a lot of hate or prejudice towards a certain group, you can always try to talk to them in a way that doesn’t make them feel attacked but rather facilitates a good conversation that could lessen that prejudice,” said Yates.

Apart from having conversations with friends or other people, there are things that we can do on a daily basis to ensure that prejudice and hate do not creep into our own lives.

“We — students and staff — need to take the time to challenge this behavior or language when we see or hear it. Those of us who are in a position to speak up must do so. Not out of anger or punishment, but to educate,” said Cowles. “LBHS students are some of the most empathetic teens I’ve had the privilege to teach, and most want to be a part of a solution. Teachers and adults are often not around when these things happen, so it is really important for students to support each other when someone speaks up. And if you don’t feel safe doing that — I encourage you to report this language and behavior so we can all continue to make LBHS welcoming.”