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Of Course Your Son’s Swank Boarding School Is Gender Diverse


Bob, that’s great news about your Belmont High son being accepted by that swank New England boarding school, well known as a feeder to the Ivy League. The sticker price of $56,500 a year (not including athletic equipment), is not a problem for you.

I mean, $169,500 for three years at a tony boarding school, with a very good chance of getting into Harvard, Yale, or Princeton, is a bargain. I’d have to stretch — no new Mercedes each year! — but I could always ask my Swarthmore wife to leave Planned Parenthood for a few years and get a job downtown worthy of her JD from Duke. But can you imagine the agony of paying all that money to a second-rate boarding school and then having your son only get into f—ing Rollins?

Your son will make new friends, and many will be foreign, mostly, of course, from the Orient, or the oil countries — I wonder why! But some will be bright kids from, you know, Fishtown — about 35 percent of the students at your son’s new school receive financial aid. They’ll be great for your son to mix with, but your house probably isn’t quite big enough for them to come and visit over Thanksgiving.

You and your wife lead a pretty straight-laced life, notwithstanding your intellectual and serious financial support for the important causes: abortion (right, “reproductive health and freedom”), the climate, and social justice. Those issues are appropriate for you, but your children’s lives so far have been a bit more contained.

Of Course We Love Diversity

Now, however, your son will be branching out. His new school puts a big emphasis on diversity, at least in the traditional sense — socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, gender, sexuality, and political — though there probably won’t be many fans of George Bush or Donald Trump there! Some of the official language is posted in the “Diversity” section of the school’s website.

Several transgender and gender-nontraditional students have graduated from the school in the last ten years. And it’s an issue current students are well aware of. In fact, recently the student council opened up the election for head of the Student Council to accommodate students who don’t identify as gender binary (boy or girl), or students who identify as trans but aren’t ready to “come out.” A prominent East Coast newspaper wrote a piece about the decision last year titled “Swank Academy Ends Gender Rule.”

The piece quotes Ibn Saud “Sandy” Faisal, a senior and cochairman of the student council who, writing in the school newspaper, said no particular student was the reason for the change but that they acted because “we discerned that, demographically, gender would likely become a factor and that it would be fair to act now.”

“Times have changed,” Faisal said. “We no longer live in a world in which identity is seen through an old-fashioned, overly simplistic lens. We, as a modern-age community, have grown out of these archaic norms and have learned to accept the world, and the people within it, the way they are now.”

Faisal said that the new rules would help make transgender students, or those who are “grappling with their identities,” feel included. The school’s dean of students, Imabita Confusio, lauded the students’ initiative as “responsible, thoughtful, [and] thorough. As an institution which values diversity of all kinds, we support the students’ effort to create a more inclusive student government,” Confusio said.

Be Brave. Be True

The school’s motto is “Be Brave. Be True.” and in his article Faisal asked, “How can we be brave or true if we require other people to be people they are not, solely for getting a position on the student council?”

Of course, you don’t have to worry about all that gender stuff. It’s not likely your son is confused. Still, I’d wait ‘til his bridal dinner to resurface those photos of him at age three prancing about in the pink tutu.

Incidentally, if you and your wife are really committed to diversity, you might want to attend the school’s alumni day program in June. They have a very diverse panel to discuss diversity! There’s a female Washington journalist who hates Trump, a black woman pundit who helped shape two major pieces of Obama legislation, a writer for The Nation and Mother Jones who used to work for John Kerry, and a lawyer who aided the successful challenge to California’s prohibition of same-sex marriage. Quite a diverse group.

You’ve got a winner of a school for your son. There hasn’t been a sexual molestation scandal there for several years, and they’ve certainly updated some of their other requirements to match their diversity policies: chapel is no longer required (I think they store athletic equipment there now). So: praise the lord and pass the hockey sticks! Your son will have a blast.