Why Holton needs SPECTRUM
SPECTRUM is Holton's LGBTQIA student alliance club. In this piece, Eve Mullen '22 interviews one of the club's student leaders about SPECTRUM's role in the Holton community.
Q: Why did you run for SPECTRUM leadership?
A: I ran for SPECTRUM because Holton has a growing queer student population and I wanted to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to have a safe space. Honestly, I wanted people to have a space where people didn’t have to think about protecting their identity–where they could be themselves authentically. I also wanted to focus on trying to make a safe space for people here with different gender identities. The whole acronym is LGBTQIA, but I think people forget that that encapsulates both gender and sexuality. Also, I felt like leadership in SPECTRUM would help me to educate staff and faculty, which is crucial in making the entire school a safe space.
Q: How do you see SPECTRUM’s role in the school’s community, and do you feel like it has been successful in its mission?
A: I do think we play a big part in educating people about queer topics, especially about transgender topics. We’ve recently had more “out” trans students in the club, and it’s really important to talk about it, because it plays a huge role in peoples’ lives. Yes to the second half of your question, too. Dr. Krug has been the faculty advisor for the past couple years, and she says the club has grown tremendously. Just to hear how many more people we have now means that SPECTRUM is working. Not all SECTRUM members are queer, too, and I like that allies are coming to learn how to support their queer friends; it shows a lot of improvement in how the student body treats each other.
Q: What unique challenges does Holton pose to LGBTQIA students?
A: Honestly, what I hear the most is that people in other schools think that everyone here is gay, because its an all girls school. Although it’s just a funny rumor, we do have sort of a large queer population, which I think comes from the safe space SPECTRUM has made and the fact that Holton is not a religious organization– that provides some more comfort in coming out. When people say that Holton students are gay, I honestly take it as a compliment, because it means we're doing something right in making people comfortable here.
Regarding people who don’t identify as a girl, it can be difficult here. Teachers often use gendered words, and guest speakers automatically use female pronouns. The fact is, Holton is more of a historically womens’ school than an all-girls one, and although coming out can be scary in any context, I think there’s a different vibe for students with different gender identities. There’s certainly a web of people here to support you when you come out, which I’m really grateful for. That’s also part of why I’m on SPECTRUM leadership– because it’s nice to know that you can talk to people who have already been through it.
Q: What kind of support does SPECTRUM need–from the student body, from the faculty and staff, or from anyone else in the community?
A: The first thing I would say is: don’t assume that because someone is in SPECTRUM that they’re queer; that’s not always the case. And questioning is a valid feeling, too.
Respect people! When a student comes out to you, they’re trusting you with valuable information and you can’t go telling it to people. I think Holton has done a really good job, especially in recent years, and I know students who aren’t out at home feel a lot of relief in this space.