IRVINGTON, N.Y. -- Irvington High School senior Zachary Gallin, who became interested in the gender equality movement after taking an Advanced Placement World History class in his sophomore year, organized and hosted the first Westchester Youth Gender Equality Conference on Sunday, April 10 at Irvington High School.
More than 100 students and adult representatives from 20 area high schools attended the conference, which featured lectures, workshops and discussions with a dozen guest speakers and local activists.
They spoke about a variety of topics, including professional equality, political representation, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) rights, cultural norms and intersectionality.
“The most rewarding part of the event for me was to see students come up to the microphone at the conference's closing and talk a bit about what they had learned at the conference,” Gallin said.
Gallin said the goal of the conference was to promote solidarity in the local gender equality movement and create a lasting regional network for high school students in the area to exchange ideas, learn from each other and become involved in the movement.
Although the tristate area hosts a variety of organizations dedicated to promoting gender equality and there’s a diverse body of youth gender equality advocates in the county, Gallin said this was the first coherent event that gathered high school students in Westchester.
“Our main goal was to create an enduring platform for exchange, so hosting the conference this year was really only the first step in the creation of our network,” said Gallin, who added that all of the attendees have already joined a group on Facebook, where they’re continuing the discussion. “We hope to host the conference again next year and to retain some of this year's participants as we develop this new community.”
The Westchester Youth Gender Equality Conference was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Irvington Education Foundation, which awarded Gallin a $1,250 Innovation Fund grant.
For more information on the conference, visit the Westchester Youth Gender Equality Conference’s website at www.wygec.org.