Assemblies are a chance to reach a lot of students, teachers, and staff in your school all at once, so they can be a powerful way to raise awareness about issues that matter to you. Assemblies aren’t usually all that empowering or even fun, so think about reclaiming them!
Newid-ffem is a school-based feminist youth group that meets weekly to “rant about all things gender related”. They took an issue each to talk about in their assembly on feminism, including: sexist comments in school; gender and racial stereotyping in Disney; sexism in sport; sexism in the orchestra; heteronormative bullying of mixed-gender friendships; and body image in the media. They delivered their assembly to each year group. At the end of the assembly, they invited students to write down what they thought about their assembly and asked them why they felt joining a feminist group was important. Here’s what some students wrote:
- “To show that younger generations are fighting inequality”
- “It’s important to spread the word throughout our school”
- “I’m intrigued and I support it”
- “Because feminism isn’t discussed enough in school”
- “To change perceptions of women”
Here are some tips for pulling off an effective school assembly:
- Choose an issue. If you’re a member of a club in school, brainstorm issues and settle on something everyone can get behind. Maybe you’re a member of the Gay Straight Trans Alliance and you want to educate the school about harassment in the hallways.
- Connect with the principal or someone in charge of scheduling for permission. Be prepared to explain your issue, what you hope to do, and why it matters. Find out what day you can present and how much time you will have.
- Consider using your time to promote your group or an event. For example, you might invite everyone to participate in the club’s Pride events or NOH8 Day.
- You want student energy on your side, so think multi-media; think entertainment and education together. If you don’t want to stand up in front of your peers or teachers, invite a speaker; use film, media, music or dance to make a digital presentation.
- Think long term, before and after. Let’s say you go with NOH8. You might show a Youtube clip from the national campaign, share information, and then invite everyone interested to come by a table the next day to have NOH8 painted on their faces, arms, or hands. Take pictures. It’s super easy to create an Animoto video from photos. Ask for follow-up assembly time to show the video and thank those who participated.