Student activists plan for the future

Senior Blue Laubach is active is speaking out on LGBTQ+ rights.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Laubach

Senior Blue Laubach is active is speaking out on LGBTQ+ rights.

The Walter Johnson community has long been involved in activism for various causes, such as racial equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, and economic equality. A great deal of this activism is carried out by our own students, who aim to raise awareness of issues pertaining to humanity and plan to carry on with their advocacy well into the future.

The Gay Student Alliance is led by senior president Blue Laubach and junior vice president Schuyler Weir, who aim to raise awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community. Laubach, who will attend American University in Washington, D.C., yearns to continue their activism, whilst learning more about LGBTQIA+ people, both through Montgomery County and college.

“I’ll probably still work with the organizations that I’ve worked with, such as MoCo Pride, and there are also different activist groups at AU, so I’m excited to meet people through those [groups] and learn more about the [LGBTQIA+] community with them,” Laubach said.

Junior Ava Heydarian is one of the co-presidents of the Middle Eastern North Africa (MENA) club, which deals with and raises awareness of topical issues relating to the Middle East.

“Honestly, I think we’ll just respond to […] whatever causes are the most pressing at that point in time, and we’ll do fundraisers, try to spread the word about [the causes] and whatnot,” Heydarian said. One of the club’s goals is to implement a Middle Eastern History class next school year.

“We plan to focus a lot on helping to develop the Middle Eastern History class. It’s going to be at WJ second semester, and we’re going to work with the teacher to make sure that a diverse curriculum is put in place for that class,” Heydarian said.

Also playing a role in our students’ activism are the club sponsors, who guide the students in leading their clubs. French teacher Farah Kinani is the sponsor of the MENA club as well as the Muslim Student Union (MSU), and she sees her responsibility as sponsor of these groups as providing guidance to the student executives whenever they need it. She also aims to apply her advice to her students.

The first thing, which is very important, […] is the ability to listen, when a person is talking – not rush, just talk, to respond. And we can only respond when we are present, when a person is talking. Give time to explain, and respond: don’t just react, that’s the number one thing that teenagers need to learn.

— Kinani

Activism has always been very rewarding for these students, who have found helping others and raising awareness of contemporary issues to be not only a goal for the clubs but also for their own personal and professional development. Laubach and Weir believe that they have grown a lot due to their advocacy.

“I definitely learned a lot more about the LGBTQIA+ community through [the Gay Student Alliance], a lot more than I knew before, and it’s just been really nice getting to know more people and telling people about the GSA, ‘Oh, you should come to see it, you can learn,’ and it’s been a really great experience,” Weir said.

Heydarian is glad that her activism has allowed her to collaborate with like-minded people in raising awareness of Middle Eastern causes.

“I think [my activism] has really helped me find a place at WJ, and find a community of people who care about similar things to me, and I hope that we’ve made a positive impact on others,” Heydarian said.