More options to satisfy all voices
Through the start of this school year, St. Louis Park seniors discussed the question of keeping the classic “Senior Ladies” shirt. Since freshman year, I have looked up to many girls and closest friends wearing these shirts. To me, they represent a fun and unique tradition, a lighthearted message of connection to those from my past and future. However, now that our turn has come, this has only created frustration for those who still feel connected to prior customs.
While I strongly believe in the inclusion of all students, there can still be a way to satisfy each party. On a poll expressed through Facebook, an option was to have both an inclusive shirt, yet still respect the importance of having a “Senior Ladies” shirt. This sparked a misinterpretation of “Senior Ladies” supporters advocating for only their shirt to represent the 2019 class.
Inclusion is a tricky subject to master altogether, especially alongside the topic of tradition. Not everyone’s perspective on senior shirts has been acknowledged as they rightfully deserve. Peers I have known for all of high school, now turning against one another left and right. Outraged when their voices weren’t heard, yet not truly listening to others who simply had a different viewpoint. The topic now has turned into those who feel disrespected clashing with individuals deciding what they feel is best for all.
This discussion left many students siding with the idea of a “Senior Ladies” shirt inhibiting us from unifying as a senior class. Despite this, uniting can begin whenever an individual decides to make a change, it does not have to rely solely on a T-shirt. If our senior class is searching to join together, creating less tension altogether will accomplish this in a much better way. Having both an inclusive non-binary shirt and a “Senior Ladies” shirt would have given these individuals the rights to choose for themselves how they want to represent the class of 2019.
While bickering over Facebook about a simple T-shirt is not favorable for getting a message across, dismissing another group’s voice is one thing that will only move us backward.
Neutral shirts unify class
Traditions are often held very near and dear to the students at Park. Which is why they are also one of the major points of contention in the student body.
Year after year arguments break out, most often among the senior class about how to carry on certain traditions at Park. But fighting in a facebook group labeled seniors is one of the traditions I am willing to leave behind.
In the weeks leading up to the start of school there were disagreements in the facebook group about whether or not the class of 2019 should have a ‘senior ladies’ T-shirt. I am proud to say it was decided that a more inclusive shirt would be a better fit for our class. In the past, these shirts have been worn with pride to homecoming pep fests, games and other special events. It is a custom I planned on participating in since I saw my sister wear this type of shirt 5 years ago. Back then, these so called senior ladies were the epitome of what I wanted to be; they were cool and collected and ready for graduation. All this was of course signified by their glizzy shirts emblazoned with their graduating year and a big swoopy word: ladies.
However, times have changed since my sister was a senior. I now realize there may be more to the story when a group of female identifying students wear an item of clothing that proudly displays their gender. Some students at our school get left out.
Whether students identify as males or don’t conform to the binary structures of gender should not determine their eligibility to participate in traditions at Park. A senior shirt should unite our class and include anyone who wants to participate, instead of dividing them.
Traditions can be important but they can also hold us back from progress. I am proud that the class of 2019 can set aside the material aspects of this tradition in favor of something more valuable. A non-gendered T-shirt still allows seniors to feel proud of their class and relate to past years without the stigma of identifying a certain way.