This is my second year at Exeter Summer. Both sessions, I have found it to be a place of tolerance and acceptance- most of the time.
When I first applied to Exeter Summer a year and a half ago, I was struck with the realization that I would have to be in a girls’ dorm because I was born female. Although I identify as nonbinary- neither a boy or a girl- I would be forced into a binary dorm. When I was accepted, my happiness overrode that feeling, and I didn’t think about it until I showed up on campus and was sent to Webster (an Upper School girls’ dorm last year). Although the other people in my dorm were nice, every dorm meeting made me realize how out of place I felt. The advisors tried their best, but every “Listen up, ladies!” was another blow to my confidence and comfort.
This year, the lack of a roommate and friends across the hall has made me feel more comfortable in my dorm. However, it’s still hard to tell other people that I live in Dunbar, because to me that’s a confirmation that I am a girl after all, and my identity is a lie.
I understand that it is hard to meet everybody’s needs in an incredibly diverse and large student body. But the lack of public gender-neutral bathrooms, the birth-gender confining visiting rules, and the insistence on birth names on IDs, Canvas, and logins makes it hard for trans and nonbinary people to feel comfortable.
By looking at my friend group, it is easy to see that Exeter Summer welcomes certain types of diversity with open arms. Other types- diversity in gender and sexuality, in particular- is an area Exeter Summer needs to work on.