My name is Ali, and I’m a second-year prefect here at Stanstead. Just about every Wednesday, you hear from someone like me. We live and work in your houses, and you probably know at least some of us by now.
We will stand up here and – no matter how calm we may appear – nervously tell you about something that is important to us. Some speeches will stick with you, others won’t. That’s okay, I’d just ask that you respect how nerve-wracking it can be for us.
Speaking of nerve-wracking, I’d like to take you waaaaaaay back to four years ago when I was an awkward, gangly Grade 9. The epitome of a hot mess, I was also harbouring a secret. I am bi-sexual. That means that I am romantically attracted to both guys and girls… and I had no earthly idea how to tell people. How would they react? Would I be pushed away or looked down upon? I wasn’t sure, so I stayed tucked away in the closet.
A few months later, my life was changed in an assembly not unlike this one. A prefect, not unlike me, came out to the entire school. She too is bi-sexual. She was also, to Grade 9 Ali, an awesome and kind Grade 12 whom I tried to emulate. Her speech, and the school’s reaction to it, were literally life-changing for me. First, she showed me that it is 100% okay to be yourself no matter the consequences. Second, the acceptance and respect that the rest of the school displayed let me know that I wouldn’t be alone if I decided to come out. So I did. I was safe, loved and supported before and after, and I can’t explain how grateful I am for that.
What does this have to do with you? Simply put: your actions speak volumes and affect more people than you’ll ever realize. This school year is an opportunity to make a change and be a role model. Someone – younger or older, friend or not – is always watching. People take their cues from you. So ask yourself, what effect do you want to have? Let’s all aim for positive impacts. Choose to be a role model and a person that a younger version of you would look up to. Be kind, be respectful, be genuine, and most importantly... be yourself.