OPINION: LGBT pledge: A moment of opportunity for all of us

The Boiling Point wholeheartedly commends Rabbi Segal and the board for pioneering LGBT support within the greater Modern Orthodox community, making Shalhevet a model for thoughtful transformation within halachic boundaries.

And now that Rabbi Segal has done his part, we the students need to do ours.

No true culture change is possible unless it comes from the ground up. It is only with student support and action that we can truly create a culture of LGBT tolerance and acceptance inside our school.

One of the pillars of Rabbi Segal’s initiative was announcing a Gay-Straight Alliance with the goal of teaching students how to be allies of LGBT students.

However, at the first GSA meeting, only 13 people – six of whom were teachers – showed up. This was probably not meant as a slight, but we know all too well that LGBT students have not always felt welcome in Shalhevet.

Jenny Newman ’11 told the Boiling Point that her teachers and friends had said ignorant things in front of her about homosexuality.

“My classmates at Shalhevet thought spreading the rumor that I was a lesbian was one of the most insulting things they could come up with,” she told the Boiling Point in an interview in 2015.

Even in the past few years, students have been hesitant to tell people about their homosexual identity. Micha Thau, an openly gay senior, wrote in an editorial published in the Jewish Journal that before coming out, he felt that his entire life would be in jeopardy if he “dared to reveal the truth to anyone.”

So we need to go the extra mile. Now, the platform is here. It is time to step up our game.

The first step is just showing up. Rather than eating lunch with friends, on days that GSA meets, come and eat lunch in that room.

There is more we can do. Social media is a powerful tool, so let’s use it to show our support. A simple like or comment on an LGBT post can be transformative – even on the Boiling Point Facebook page or website.

Let’s show that our minds and hearts are open. Let’s live the culture our school is spearheading.