More Than Just Bracelets: How One Arizona School Is Showing Support for Transgender Students

Sometimes sheer luck, determination, and simplicity can produce an unexpected result. Often, this perfect storm of circumstances produces conduits to make change. At a small school in Chandler, Arizona, students would educate, uplift, and unite the school population over a pressing issue: transgender rights.

The school-wide movement had arisen more than anything out of sheer coincidence. A group of students at Chandler Preparatory Academy in Chandler, Arizona, had been leaving math tutoring when they were handed bracelets that read a simple yet powerful message: TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. Gleefully, the group donned the bracelets and with it, the spark of an idea soon to ignite a movement was lit.

The next day, the bracelets drew attraction from the group’s peers. Other students noticed the bright purple wristbands and asked where they could receive one. It was that initial interest that would have many of the high school students wearing a bracelet within months.

The original group of students, inspired by the interest of their peers, decided to buy a bevy of bracelets, reading the exact same phrase, and passed them out to members of the school population. Each of the organizers advertised to their friends, posted on social media, and explained their motive for doing so. Soon, most of the high school could be seen wearing the bright purple bands.

When asked to comment on the impact of the bracelets, Benny Feliciano, a junior at Chandler Prep and one of the organizing members said, “There was a positive impact throughout the student community and it furthered the conversation which is at the very least some progress.”

More than anything else, the goal of the students involved was to create a more inclusive, accepting campus. The bracelets were emblematic of more than just a fashion trend; they were worn to show solidarity and support of transgender students, whether out or not. The student body wanted it to be known that no matter a peer’s gender or sexual identity, they would be supported and cherished.

This movement is a microcosm of a general trend amongst Generation Z. When it comes to supporting transgender rights, teenagers are leading the way. In fact, a new study by J Walter Thompson Intelligence found that 56% of 13-to-20-year-olds said that they knew someone who went by gender neutral pronouns. Additionally, the study revealed that over 1/3 of Gen Z respondents also strongly agreed that gender did not define a person as much as it used to. Gen Z is poised to be the most open-minded and inclusive of any of the generations that preceded them. Their impact will undoubtedly bring about a more welcoming world, where trans rights truly are human rights.

While it certainly seemed like a perfect storm of circumstances, the students of Chandler Prep know that their movement was no product of luck. At the forefront of change, students and young people are leading the way to build a more inclusive, kinder world.

To learn ways in which you can support the transgender community or for additional resources, visit Translifeline.org.

Alison Cohen

Ali Cohen, 17, is a junior at Chandler Preparatory Academy in Chandler, Arizona. She has channeled her passion for girls' education into the United Nations "Girl Up" campaign, where she serves as the director for the state of Arizona, and the 1000 Dreams Fund Student Advisory Board, a non-profit that provides scholarships and mentorship to young women. In addition, she's also passionate about civics, which led her to serve on the Citizen University Youth Collaboratory.

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