By Aisha Mohanty, Staff Writer
// As car horns become the new “happy birthday”, face-to-face conversations turn into online interactions, and school courses remain on digital platforms, COVID-19 continues to prompt Acalanes High School Leadership to find virtual substitutes for school activities.
Aiming to shed light on misunderstood and underrepresented communities both on and off-campus, Acalanes Diversity Board members found alternate methods to celebrate Human Rights Week, which began on May 4.
“Human Rights Week this year has definitely been different from in the past. I wasn’t able to be as involved and only got to see one session, but it was still informative to hear the stats and also the different perspectives of my peers,” junior Madison Payne said.
Acalanes Diversity Board head and junior Kylie Alfaro explained how each day of Human Rights Week focused on a specific theme and its importance to the lives of students.
“We covered topics such as child labor, human rights during COVID-19, gender inequality, and the Declaration of Human Rights,” Alfaro said. “We believe that there are many other topics involving human rights that are equally important; we decided to focus on these four because we believed they provided a good mix of relatable as well as unknown topics.”
For the first activity of the week, Queer Straight Alliance club Secretary and senior Stephanie Liu hosted an online Zoom presentation on Monday, May 4, discussing laws regarding LGBTQ+ members outside of the United States.
“It’s important to remember that LGBTQ rights don’t begin and end with marriage; there’s a whole lot of other demands the community makes around the word like adoption rights, the right to legally change one’s gender, the availability of gender reassignment surgery, etc. Gay rights are human rights,” Liu said.
On Tuesday, May 5, the Board posted a picture on the Acalanes Leadership Instagram highlighting the harsh realities of child labor across the world. Diversity Board member and sophomore Aviruchi Dawadi reflected on the information the post provided.
“In the least developed countries, slightly more than one in four children are engaged in labor that is considered detrimental to their health and development. Working children were unable to attend school, creating a cycle of poverty that was difficult to break,” Dawadi said.
The Diversity Board published another photograph to Instagram on Wednesday, May 6, informing students of human and refugee rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, mentioning how countries have closed their borders during the quarantine.
“Migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people are particularly vulnerable. More than 131 countries have closed their borders, with only 30 allowing exemptions for asylum-seekers,” Dawadi said.
On Thursday, May 7, the Board set up an online Zoom meeting focusing on gender inequality. The Board discussed the history of female societal repression through wage gaps and other oppressive policies.
“I think what I learned most is how society perpetuates inequality whether it’s intentional or not. People don’t decide to be sexist or biased; it’s systematic and isn’t something we’ll break down immediately,” Payne said.
On May 8, the last day of Human Rights Week, the Board highlighted the progression of human rights across the globe. Through a photograph on the Acalanes Instagram, Leadership emphasized countries’ advances in human rights through bills and laws.
Ultimately, Leadership wanted students to recognize the importance of maintaining an open mind and seeking additional knowledge.
“It is important for Acalanes and people, in general, to educate themselves on topics such as these because it gives you a better idea about what kind of world you live in, as well as how many people interact within it,” Alfaro said.
Check out the recap of the Queer Straight Alliance Zoom below!