Social Justice Advocate Sam Killerman Speaks to Students

Posted on Friday May 01, 2015
Sam Killerman at RCI
Sam Killerman at RCI

On Thursday, April 16th 2015, RCI students were visited by social justice advocate, Sam Killermann, to learn about the complexities of gender and sexuality.

In their initiative to educate students about the LGBTQ community, and more specifically transgender literacy, the Renfrew County District School Board and OSSTF invited Killermann to speak to schools in the area.

Killermann met with students in grades 10 to 12, followed by a smaller group of just grade 9 students. Offering personal anecdotes and answering the students’ eager questions, Killermann explored topics from the cycle of oppression and gender norms to the importance of seeing gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation as separate spectrums and mostly independent of one another.

“Gender is a tough subject to tackle,” Killermann explained, “There are many facets to consider and many facets at play, and we have all been conditioned in such a way that our first instinct is almost unanimously wrong.”

On top of speaking to the school as a whole, Killermann also met one-on-one with Michael Wright’s Social Justice class. The students in the course studied his book, The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender as part of their unit on LGBTQ rights.

“Having had my Social Justice class read Sam’s Guide to Gender book, it was an amazing Q and A session in class,” said Wright; “It was a very unique opportunity to have students interact with a well-known speaker.”

Killermann clarified with the class that empathy is one step further than understanding when it comes to tackling LGBTQ issues and becoming an ally. From his talk, RCI students were able to better understand the many different aspects of identity, and the importance of respecting the identities of others.

In his book, Killermann summarizes this significance of understanding: “Two options for gender is too few. There are seven billion individuals on this earth. We owe ourselves at least that many choices for how to be a person.”

Sam Killermann has given keynotes at conferences both globally and regionally, as well as entertains with his website and comedy show, ‘It’s Pronounced Metrosexual’. RCI was the second last stop on Killermann’s five school tour in the Ottawa Valley.

Writer: Marissa De Boer
Photo submitted by: Charlene Edwards-Budden

In photo: Sam Killerman is speaking to the Grade 12 Social Justice class.