Members of the board game club at Renaissance High School constructed a “Coming Out Wall” in honor of National Coming Out Day, to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and more.
The Coming Out Wall posted on the second floor included various “secrets” that were written and submitted anonymously by members of the 1,203 student body.
“I'm too fat to be noticed” and “I honestly hate school - I'm miserable here” are just two of the 225 submissions now posted in bright colors.
The wall was designed to create a safe space for students, providing a way to come out about various secrets in a creative way. For four days leading up to National Coming Out Day, the board game club collected anonymous posts in closed box.
On Oct. 12, one day after NCOD, students arrived to school with two full walls of student secrets. Within the first three hours, 100 more anonymous submissions were entered.
As a person who identifies with the LGBTQ community, Andres Davis, a 15 year-old RHS junior, said it’s a good idea to have that wall. “There are people who don't know how to exactly come out to their friends,” Davis said.
“It has had a positive impact on the school because those who are dealing with certain issues were given the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said RHS junior D’Andre Jackson.
Twenty percent of the RHS student body participated. Observers saw the wall’s statistics posted as well: among the student body of 1,203, 225 students had secrets to share, 91 students were in distress, and 29 students came out as LGBTQ+.
English teacher Tory Spring said she thinks the Coming Out Wall gives students an opportunity “to voice their struggles and triumphs without discrimination and fear of shame.” She also said the wall helps the teachers to see and know the problems RHS students are facing.
Despite much positive response among students and staff, the wall has come with controversy.
Some students laughed at the wall, even posting anonymous secrets to their own social media. Administration worried that the purpose of the wall would not be taken seriously, and some rumors had spread that the wall would be taken down entirely.
“The wall has to stay up,” said sophomore Kennedy Barnes. She urged administration to reconsider. “It is showing real-world problems that we don’t pay attention to,” she added.
Members of the student body, including those who didn't post to the wall, were given the opportunity to write a letter of reflection to the wall, to share how it has impacted them.
“I really appreciate and am thankful for all of the students who were brave enough to share a secret to the wall,” wrote one student anonymously.
Another wrote, “I didn't feel like I had anything to say, at first, but observing the wall and seeing the secrets student posted, made me realize that I too have a voice and a story.”
Since it began early October, the wall has gained traction. More students are coming out on paper, and more students are finding that they have much in common.