General Meeting at Nightingale Bamford 11/21/08

Friday before last, student members of the DAIS Organization met for the third general meeting of the 08-09 season. It was held at The Nightingale Bamford School and, seen from the caliber of discussion that took place there, it was a great success.

Before the official start of the meeting, the DAIS Core leadership and those students who, in the previous week, volunteered to facilitate discussion at Nightingale, met to prepare.


In the meantime, students from New York’s public and private schools began to arrive and, as always at DAIS meetings, were able to spend some time getting to know and catch up with one another.

studentsmingleSix o’ clock rolled by and the meeting was ready to begin. Student representatives from Nightingale welcomed the DAIS organization to their school and the DAIS core leaders introduced themselves and the organization by reading aloud the DAIS “community norms”.


Discussion officially began with an “icebreaker” developed by the DAIS executive committee. In the activity, each student in attendance was asked their name, school and grade, along with one right they thought was granted to  legally married couples in the United States.


From all of the responses in the room, only twelve different possible rights  were noted, a far cry from the actual number of 1000+. After learning this, students were asked to contemplate the fact that those 1000 rights were essentially denied to gay couples in California as a result of  Proposition 8’s Passing in early November on Election Day.

Student then split into two sub-groups, each of which was led in discussion by a set of  facilitators and documented by a designated note-taker.

smallgroupsTo better understand how the meeting proceeded, here are some of the questions that facilitators used to guide discussions:

-Is marriage a right or a privilege? Why? What is your opinion based on?

-What is your definition of a ‘civil union’? What is the difference between marriage and a civil union? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Are they equal? Why or why not?

-Should anybody be allowed, by law, to marry, regardless of their gender and/or sexual orientation? Why or why not?

-Should the courts/ government be the determining factor regarding marriage? If not who or what? Why?


-What, if anything, affects your opinion and/or thoughts about marriage and civil union?…your culture/heritage…your religion?

 –Is there a difference in opinions about sexuality and sexual orientation based on one’s gender? What is the difference and how ? Which gender seems to be more flexible in their opinion? How? Why?

 –Is there a difference in opinion about sexuality and sexual orientation based on one’s race, ethnicity, culture, age and/or religion? What are the differences? How and why?

 –Is this country…the American culture… comfortable with people’s sexuality and sexual orientation? If not, should there be a change? Why or why not? Does it or would it make a difference? How?

diasporaAfter an hour, the groups were ready to re-join and relay to each other their closing thoughts along with the help of the meeting scribes and the two senior Core Leaders.

closingactAt the end of the day’s meeting, founding director Mrs. Marable gave announcements and emphasized the importance of students being being able to talk freely and intelligently about such matters and closed with a relevant and moving anecdote.

The DAIS Organization would like to thank all of the students who participated in the meeting and the Nightingale Bamford School for providing the space in which it was held.

Summary: S. Hazarika

Images: K. Marable


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