Looking back to look forward

Founded in 1989 by Sharon Tentarelli ’90, Andover’s GSA is likely the first established group in our independent school network. Since its founding, GSA has championed the LGBTQ community at Andover and helped to create lasting and indelible change. Kicking off the weekend, Tentarelli ’90, walked the audience through a series of articles and other Andover documents that revealed student and faculty sentiments on campus at the time. While some students were supportive of the GSA’s founding, that wasn’t necessarily the case for all. Yet, the founding members understood that the need to provide a safe space for LGBTQ students far outweighed other students’ objections.

Even with the founding of the GSA, we know that local and national dialogue made it unsafe for some students to openly identify on campus. Alumni who visited for the weekend shared their own stories, including why they waited until after Andover to identify with the LGBTQ community. During the weekend, we were grateful to welcome Frank Tipton and current faculty and staff involved in the GSA, all-gender dorm and other campus initiatives to share their stories and perspectives with us. It was an incredibly moving and important day for our community.

The weekend kicked off with the Annual Drag Show, hosted by the GSA in collaboration with the Theater Producers in Tang Theater. Students lip-synced their hearts out to a packed audience and one comedy duo challenged conventional norms while making us laugh. At the end of the weekend, the GSA hosted Coming Out Stories to provide a space for folks to share their truths.

Workshop Sessions


Karissa Kang ’17

In September 2017, with the help of partners across and beyond the PA community, Andover opened its first all-gender dorm. Come to this panel to hear from a number of folks who have been involved with and touched by this inclusive housing option: Karissa Kang ’17, the student (now alum) who pioneered the idea; Emma Staffaroni and LaShawn Springer, two of the house counselors who have been working with this amazing community of students; and a parent of a PA senior who is a current dorm resident. Our hope is that this panel will allow our extended GSA family to share their stories, ask questions, and offer their perspectives on our efforts to make PA a happy home for all of our trans*, nonbinary, and genderqueer community members.


Frank Tipton, Assistant Head of School at Gann Academy and former PA faculty member/LGBT advisor

How might leadership style intersect with personal identity and personal narrative? Join Frank Tipton, assistant head of school at Gann Academy and former PA faculty member/LGBT advisor, as he shares some of his experiences as a school leader and facilitates a Q&A and group activity. All are welcome!


Kurt Prescott, Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Lauren Kerby, PhD, of the Religious Literacy Project, Harvard University

Islam. Hinduism. Buddhism. Most of us recognize these faiths as major “world religions” alongside Judaism and Christianity; few of us, however, are aware of the colonialist origins of these terms. In “Decolonizing Religious Studies: Making Space for Queer Voices,” Kurt Prescott, chair of Phillips Academy’s Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Lauren Kerby, PhD, of the Religious Literacy Project, will highlight the ways in which teachers at Andover are challenging the traditional world religions model in favor of a more dynamic, fluid, and contextual approach to studying religious identity. By breaking down the rigid and static boundaries demarcated by world religions, it becomes possible for new voices—including those of LGBTQ individuals—to surface, revealing the complex ways in which human beings have used and continue to use religion as a means of expressing values and making meaning in the world.


Miles McCain ’19 and Karin Ulanovsky ’20

Join two current PA seniors in an exploration of the spectrum of gender, gender fluidity, gender binaries, and gender in relation to issues on campus and in the current world. This workshop delves into how Andover endorses (or impedes) a community that fosters gender queer inclusivity not only through the policies and practices of the school, but also through social aspects that arise within the student community. We  will also talk about the recent issues regarding legal definitions of sex and gender and how and why the Trump Administration is working to make these two terms synonymous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: