The LGBTQ+ Community At Brebeuf

Valerie Kossmann '24, Staff Writer

In terms of high schools in Indiana, few places emphasize inclusivity quite like Brebeuf. Between morning reflections on how to be a better, more caring individual and talks about intersectionality led by alumni, most students would agree that diversity and identity are commonly discussed in school. This is especially evident in the wake of Pride Week, hosted by the Gender-Sexuality Alliance.


Part of this five-day celebration of visibility include sharing experiences at school relating to sexuality and the gender spectrum, both positive and negative. Perhaps one of the most important things Brebeuf has done, according to queer student and staff (If you are unsure what ‘queer’ means, see the LGBTQ+ dictionary provided.),  is provide a place where they can be open about their identity.


Herschel Nathan, one of the leaders of the GSA, class of ‘22, says “I do feel really open … If someone asks me about it, I am more than willing to talk about it, or if someone’s questioning themself, I am more than happy to be a resource.”


Teachers are also encouraged to be open about their identity. Mrs. Drier, an English teacher, shares one particular experience she had whilst in the process of being hired at Brebeuf, especially after facing prejudice from other private schools.


She describes an experience following her interview in which she told the interviewer about her and her partner’s identity. “I knew that I needed to be transparent for my own protection … my follow-up was ‘I need to know– my partner is transitioning, and I identify as queer,’ ” she says. “And, to [the interviewer’s] beautiful credit, she blinked and said ‘Why would that matter?’ but that was transformational for me. It was also, I think, for me, an affirmation that I don’t just need to be open among my colleagues; I want to be open as a teacher.”


This experience made teaching stories with queer themes and characters more fulfilling in the English curriculum, she says. “One of the beauties of English is that I can bring the whole world into my classroom, so I have brought up before: “Let’s talk about the potential sexuality of this character, let’s talk about the potential gender-bending identity of this character … in the short story “My Dear You,” the protagonist doesn’t ever identify their gender.


“A student brought that up to me a few years ago, and since then, I have purposefully taught the protagonist as a non-binary individual. That, in itself, creates space for discussion for affirmation and normalization.”


With all this said, Brebeuf is not a perfect place in regards to the LGBTQ+ community.


“Brebeuf does a pretty good job compared to the status quo to of other schools in referencing queer issues, but just because it’s better than the status quo doesn’t mean it’s great,” Nathan says. “I’ll use health class for an example … there was some discussion surrounding intersex people, and how they are different from others. However, it failed to address things such as homosexual relationships. It failed to mention the importance of safe sex.”


Nathan also mentioned the possibility of an optional queer history class. “I would like to see a LGBTQ+ history class,” they say. “As someone who studies the Black history class taught at Brebeuf, I would really like to see a queer one … I think that is one of the more achievable ones.”


In other countries such as Ireland, it is common for schools to include LGBTQ+ history in the curriculum. Seeing representation, not only in modern times, but also in history would be a huge step for gay and transgender students at Brebeuf.


Brebeuf has already made major strides for queer visibility for young people, especially in comparison to some other schools in Indiana. In the words of Olivia Hege, class of ’23, summing up the LGBTQ+ experience here: “Brebeuf is a generally an open and accepting space, and I really appreciate it.”

HUMAN Poster with LGBTQ Flags
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Porter ’23