Just before the start of the school year, Marlborough alumnus Nyala Carbado ’14 met with Head of School Priscilla Sands to explore new ways to familiarize Marlborough students with useful skills related to diversity, as part of an effort to incorporate discussions of race, gender, and sexual orientation into the Marlborough experience.
Carbado served as co-president of Marlborough’s Gay Straight Alliance while attending Marlborough, and, like Sands, hopes to create a community that celebrates difference and creates more spaces for conversation about diversity in order to educate the Marlborough student body on the topic as a whole.
Carbado, who identifies as gender-neutral and uses the pronoun “they,” expressed that implementing gender-neutral bathrooms at Marlborough could allow for a more inclusive space at the school. They explained that some students’ identities may change through their years at Marlborough, and that it would be stressful and inconvenient to switch schools because of that.
Carbado also proposed increasing the frequency of conversations about how to approach difficult situations regarding race, gender, and sexual orientation as well as intersectionality, which they explained as the ways that different identities intersect and join in a way that makes each individual’s experience different.
“High school’s where you’re supposed to learn these things; you’re supposed to mess up, you’re supposed to make mistakes, you’re supposed to learn from them, and if you’re too scared to do that, you might make mistakes later on,” Carbado said.
Lastly, Carbado suggested implementing workshops that focus on how to be allies to those struggling with their race, gender, or sexual orientation. They said they believe in having active allies rather than those who use the title without actually knowing what it means.
At her previous school, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Sands established community listening groups for students to share their personal struggles and questions about identity. She was very receptive to Carbado’s ideas, saying that she hopes to hear more ideas from the school community about how best to create a better space for learning about these topics of diversity.
“My goal is that students will graduate from Marlborough and say, ‘it was such a safe place to be and I felt as though [my] classmates knew me and cared about me, the teachers knew me and cared about me, and whoever that me is, that’s the person who’s being cared for,’” Sands said.
Marlborough’s current co-president of Alliance, Alden ’17, agrees with Carbado and Sands, and hopes to implement more conversations about diversity.
“I think more discussion of diversity will lead to an environment where our differences can be celebrated and help inform new and more complete perspectives for individuals in the community,” Alden ’17 said.