Fox Chapel Area students tout diversity with ‘Be the Change’ workshop
Two Fox Chapel Area sophomores rallied their peers from across the region for a workshop aimed at promoting social justice.
Students Abigail Rickin-Marks and Suparna Agrawal hosted a half-day workshop April 14 titled “Be the Change: Fight Discrimination in School.”
The free program was held at the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh. Topics included educational law, diversity issues and implicit biases.
“High school students can make a difference and need to make our voices heard,” Rickin-Marks said. “Understanding the issues and joining together allows us to be the change we want to see.”
The teens were awarded a grant from Duquesne University and the Dreaming Radically Youth Conference to host the event.
More than 25 high schoolers from Deer Lakes, Pittsburgh Allderdice and others joined together to listen to keynote speaker Rep. Summer Lee (D-Braddock), who talked about wanting to see people of all backgrounds in books, politics and in public life, and seeking equitable education opportunities for all children.
Other sessions included mental health issues and advocacy, presented by comedian and columnist Gab Bonesso; issues of social class, presented by Fox Chapel Area history teacher Brandon Rios; sexuality and heteronormativity, led by Rickin-Marks; race and racism in schools, led by Jalen Achilles, a junior at Urban Pathways Charter School; and gender bias and policy, presented by Melissa Marks, professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg.
“For those who are the majority, they don’t understand the difficulties of discrimination,” Rickin-Marks said. “School is tiring enough that no one should have to face discrimination within school, even if they’re just micro-aggressions.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, [email protected] or via Twitter .