Making a Stand for Social Workers of Maine
by Allie Richards ’14
On Friday September 27th, the Maine chapter of the National Association of Social Workers held a conference in Northport, Maine. Students from Waterville High School’s S.T.A.N.D and Waterville Junior High’s Student Allies were invited to perform skits written by youth that present new ideas on LGBTQ issues. The group of students, known as the Out and Allied Theater group have presented on many other occasions throughout the Waterville community.
The student’s performed five skits titled; “I’m Not Gay but Thanks,” “Linda,” “Coming Out: What Not to Do,” “Crayola Crusade,” and “My Community.” All of these skits were written by youth and performed by youth, highlighting the complicated and sad issues behind a person’s sexuality and how society perceives them.
`The skits use comedy, drama, and despair to show the audience the effects stereotypes and prejudice play on youth. They highlight the importance of being open to different people, not using insults, being an ally, and being an accepting person. The skits provoke laughter in order to show irony, point out society’s faults and entertain any audience. They break down the sad truth behind feeling different so that audiences can relate to the character’s problems and truly feel the character’s emotions.
The skits were praised by audience members who said they were; well written, thought provoking, entertaining, awesome, helpful, and influential. This is very high praise for pieces solely written by youth, presented to an audience of adults.
Shelbie Douglas ’14, a new member of S.T.A.N.D and audience member, found the presentation interesting saying, “It made me excited to see what else I was going to be able to learn and be able to do myself; everyone was so charismatic and passionate, and that really gave the performances a deeper and lasting effect that made you want to take a stand and accept different sexualities.” This quote really shows that these presentations have a real effect on people and inspire audiences to be accepting.
The performers received lots of positive feedback, interest in their work, and even more opportunities for performances. During the allotted time for questions and answers, the audience of social workers asked about the administrators influence, the school’s acceptance, and the community involvement of S.T.A.N.D and Student Allies. They learned that the administrators are extremely helpful and essential to their goal, the school has been impacted in very positive ways, and the two groups participate in other presentations and volunteer work.
The conference gave an opportunity for the two groups to present their work, learn of new opportunities, and influence a new crowd. This conference and presentations showed that big things are to come from these groups.