St. Mark's School

Katie Park

February 29, 2020

Although I have consulted with a friend of mine who identifies as bisexual, this is strictly from the perspective of a straight person so that I might be missing out on important perspectives. Teenage years are exciting, but at the same time, can be very nervous and confusing as we find out more about our sexual orientation. It can be especially difficult as boarding school students as the communities are closely knit, which can sometimes feel as if there is not enough privacy. The student body at St. Mark’s is well aware of that, and multiple groups on campus try to alleviate the pressure and stress that surrounds self-identification. At St. Mark’s, Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is an extremely active group on campus. The GSA holds both open and closed meetings regularly. For open meetings, everyone is welcomed to come, and the group especially encourages allies to come and share how they perceive topics relating to gender and sexuality. The purpose of having open meetings is to provide a safe place in which everyone feels comfortable to voice their opinions. Closed meetings are more private since it’s a space for people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to have more personal conversations. Although St. Mark’s as a community is pretty liberal and open-minded, LGBTQ+ students still face various conflicts. 

St. Mark’s, like most Episcopal boarding schools, have evening chapel once a month, and students are required to dress up. According to the handbook, the chapel dress is “a sport coat, blazer, or suit with a collared dress shirt and tie or turtleneck, dress slacks, dress shoes, and socks. Shirts must be tucked in.” There is no mentioning of genders, so both boys and girls can wear anything that is mentioned above. However, there’s something called gender policing, which is when there is pressure to have normative gender expressions. In other words, girls do not necessarily have to wear a dress to the chapel, but there is a certain pressure to look “normal,” so most girls choose to wear a dress. As shown in this example, although the school gives both genders the same options, each gender is pressured to present themselves in a certain way to be “normal,” which is something that is going to take more time. Still, we are definitely headed toward the right direction as a community. 

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