CAS stands for Creativity, Action, and Service, and it is one of three essential elements that every student must complete to receive the IB Diploma. While not formally assessed, CAS provides opportunities for students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development through hands-on learning.
One of the components of CAS is a ‘CAS Project’, a collaborative series of student-initiated CAS experiences over several months engaging students in one or more CAS strands (creativity, activity, and service). Following the five CAS stages of Investigation, Preparation, Demonstration, Action, and Reflection, students can explore their passions whilst challenging themselves to initiate purposeful action around defined goals. The following months will bring a series of interviews where the STC Media Team interviews different students around the school to highlight their CAS projects and initiatives.
This week, Kody Tang speaks to the STC Media Team about his CAS project STC Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA). A passionate advocate for LGBTQ+ issues, he wants to create a safe space for STC students to discuss LGBTQ+ topics and explore their queer identity.
Can you introduce the STC Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA)?
The STC Queer-Straight Alliance is a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and allies to gather, discuss topics, and have a good time. Throughout the sessions, there are creative and engaging activities, steps towards advocacy, and opportunities for students to find support and sympathy from QSA heads and members. The QSA is open every Tuesday at 3:30 PM; we meet over Zoom during online school and in Room 153-154 when in person. We don’t mind walk-ins, so students can come and go as they please.
Why did you decide to start this CAS project? What intentions does your CAS project have?
As someone who identifies as part of the queer community, I’ve always wanted STC to have a queer-straight alliance or queer support group. As I spent more time at STC, I realised that the STC LGBTQ+ community was more extensive than I initially thought. Realising that a QSA would have the potential to benefit many people in school, I eventually decided to take action myself and form the STC Queer-Straight Alliance.
The main goal is to provide a space where students who identify along the LGBTQ+ spectrum can be themselves unapologetically and openly discuss their thoughts and opinions without judgement. As for the wider school community, the QSA has plans to collaborate with Reinbeau to create resources for the Relationship and Sex-ed Curriculum, so it addresses more queer topics.
What impact/outcome do you hope QSA will have on the school community?
In general, I hope the QSA will be able to raise more awareness about and destigmatise LGBTQ+ topics, inviting more open conversation about issues that non-cishet (not heterosexual or cisgender) people might have. The best-case scenario would be a community where people are empathetic and open to learning about diverse experiences.
How can students be an ally to the LGBT+ community?
Being an ally to the LGBTQ+ community can seem intimidating because you don’t know how to show your support, but the truth is we can show allyship in small ways like listening and giving a hand to LGBTQ+ peers who need it.
You can also be a good ally by doing your research and putting in that extra effort to understand the diversity and depth of the LGBTQ+ experience. It’s okay not to be able to empathise with or understand our experiences fully, but we appreciate it when you try to.
One other thing you can do to show respect is not speaking over LGBTQ+ voices regarding LGBTQ+ issues, especially when it comes to unfamiliar topics.
What does the LGBT+ community look like for you during social distancing and isolation?
Like any other community or friend group, social distancing and isolation make a meeting with other LGBTQ+ people difficult. Largescale events like the Pride Parade have also been cancelled, which can be discouraging, as it’s a grand celebration and act of resilience for many queer people in Hong Kong.
However, the community itself hasn’t changed and is still just as determined and strong-willed as it always was. We are finding ways to get around the restrictions, like with the Pride Market, and on a smaller scale, by holding QSA sessions online.
What words (of advice, wisdom, encouragement, etc.) do you have for young queer and trans students?
Don’t feel obligated to label yourself. Sexuality and gender are more than just spectrums, and if we were to name every spot on the scale, there would be a never-ending list of labels. If you don’t identify entirely with anything, it’s completely okay and valid to exist as you are.
It can be challenging to look ahead into the future when you’re feeling misunderstood and alone in the present, but things will improve. If so much has already happened in these few years you’ve been alive, imagine how more good could happen in the next 10, 20 years alone! Being queer isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, but it’s worth holding on to see how the story continues.
Written and edited by: Kadence Wong