Striving to become a more welcoming place for all its students, Garfield has made numerous steps to increase inclusivity. From a push for gender neutral bathrooms and graduation gown colors, Garfield is working hard to make the school environment more embracing of the LGBTQ+ community. Most recently the ASB has decided to replace the alternating dances of Winter Ball and Tolo, with a new all-inclusive winter formal, Snowball.
Junior ASB president, Tianna Andreson, reflected on the old dances, believing they excluded students outside the typical gender binary.
“It was not necessarily equal or inclusive for everyone,” she shared. “I was thinking about how Tolo is girls ask guys typically and how a lot of students from the LGBTQ+ community had problems with that.”
Although a group effort, Andreson was the first to propose the new dance movement to her ASB peers in October. Set aside until late November, the new dance, to take place on February 10th, has now been publicized to all Garfield students. Andreson, and many of her fellow ASB officers, wish to replace the gender constrained expectation of past dances with a new notion.
“The long term goal is inclusiveness. All these heteronormative and patriarchal beliefs and stigmas around the dance have been embedded in our society for so long about who can ask who and what’s seen as manly or masculine,” said Andreson.
Expanding the parameters of the dance is a step to make Garfield traditions less constricting.
“We’re trying to break down this stigma so that in the long run it’s gone and opens up other events at our school and encourages other advisors to be more inclusive.”
Though the steps taken to passing the new dance movement were in no way seamless, Andreson shared that the steps that followed presented just as great a challenge. “The hardest part was getting it passed and the second hardest part was telling everyone […] It was a long process because there were a lot of different varying opinions,” she said.
Despite inclusive intentions, the new dance has provoked student pushback throughout the school community. “There was backlash from a lot of students who thought we were taking away the girl’s right to ask someone to a dance when they usually aren’t able to do that,” said Andreson.
Many female students at Garfield felt that Tolo gave them an opportunity to assume a role that society doesn’t typically present to them.
“There were varying opinions and a lot of people who didn’t want to do it, which is totally fine,” stated Andreson. “We respect that and it helps us think about how our decisions affect other people in the community.”
ASB took this feedback as constructive criticism and used it to grow. The public informed them what was working with their new dance proposal and what fell short, allowing ASB to reform their ideas to represent the voices of Garfield students.
“This year our ASB mission and vision has changed a lot to cater to a broader community rather than to the communities that have already been served.” Andreson and her ASB peers feel strongly about establishing Garfield as a safe place for all. This driven group of students have devoted themselves to breaking down gender constricting traditions, believing it to be a vital step in the long-term goal of establishing an all-inclusive school.