Equity & Diversity Opinion

Burn Bright: For My LGBTQ Students (And The Rest of Them, Too)

By Christina Torres — June 30, 2016 2 min read
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My dears, mis corazoncitos,

Part of me hopes that the lazy days of summer have somehow shielded you from the news. In wanting to protect you, a small part of my heart wishes that you had no idea what happened in Orlando; that you didn’t know that 49 lives were taken away without reason; that you were safe from the knowledge that, even today, you can be targeted for some part of your identity that should be celebrated and cherished.

Still, I know that’s not how the world works. If anything, shielding you from such knowledge would only stunt your ability to learn how to overcome the frustrating truths we live with: that there is still terrible injustice in the world and that you are the ones who will be able to change it.

We’ll be here to help you, of course. Loved ones, family (blood and chosen), teachers, friends-- the strongest of us will create spaces to give you rest and hear your voice and amplify your stories. We will encourage those who are failing you as allies to do better. We will come collect our own when they fail you.

And, yes, many people will fail you. That’s just a truth about the world. People disappoint us sometimes. We have created and enabled systems that let people teach and believe terrible lies about who you are or that the way you love and are are anything but perfect.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the times when I may have believed that myself. I’m sorry for the times I was complicit in letting those systems perpetuate with my silence.

You have a right to feel angry, hurt, frustrated, and betrayed by your country. We have failed so many of you miserably. Whatever disillusionment you feel is understandable.

All I can ask is this: please don’t live in a place of cynicism and melancholy for too long. Take the time to heal, know that your feelings are validated, ask for help and support. Just know that places exist in the world that love and accept and know how special you are. And if you feel like they don’t, you are filled with an infinite capacity to love enough to create those spaces. Yes, it is true that injustice still exists. It is also true that there is no limit to what hope, love, and hard work can overcome.

After a bad break up, my mentor teacher once looked me in the eye and said, “I know it hurts. But remember: a cat that sits on a hot stove will avoid the stove because it’s learned something. But it’ll be a long time before it goes near a stove at all, for fear of being burned again. Don’t be too scared for too long. Don’t let fear take away your willingness to explore heat and love again.”

Love can create the space for healing, celebration, and joy they want to steal from you. Don’t let them take it. Don’t let their fear keep you from the fire. Love radically and loudly. Burn bright. We don’t just need your light, but you deserve to shine, darlings.

With lots of love,

Ms. Torres

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The opinions expressed in The Intersection: Culture and Race in Schools are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.