Dr. Majick Ravenhawk – therapist and activist in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues – wants to make the world a better place for kids with “two spirits.” To do it, she’s changing one of the single most influential factors in every young person’s life – school.
“What I try to do is focus my activism in two areas,” she says. “The first is native peoples in general, particularly kids. They need help understanding the misrepresentations of our culture in film, television, as school mascots and so on. At the same time, I’m an activist for the LGBT community.”[pullquote]“We have a great mix of students,” she says. “We have a mix of allies, two-spirit kids and Native American kids. The school’s all about not hating. It’s about allowing these kids to be who they truly are.” [/pullquote]
Ravenhawk, who is Tigua Pueblo, uses the two-spirit (male and female) concept as a healthier, more holistic lens to view LGBT culture. Homosexuality went by many different names, but more than 150 tribes used the two spirits term for thousands of years, and homophobia was nonexistent in most native cultures. American Indians, she says, honed their cultural responses to gender issues long before the Mayflower landed.
Today, two spirits is inclusive of the entire LGBT community, and that acceptance forms the foundation of the Oklahoma Alliance Academy. The Tulsa school will serve as a safe, welcoming environment for bisexual, gay and transgender students pursuing a high school diploma.
The academy, which fits into the frame of Ravenhawk’s anti-bullying policy, will open its doors this fall to 175 kids; there’s already a waiting list. The school is scheduled to open to more students in 2015.
“We have a great mix of students,” she says. “We have a mix of allies, two-spirit kids and Native American kids. The school’s all about not hating. It’s about allowing these kids to be who they truly are. They’ll be able to learn without worrying about being bullied or assaulted.”
The school, however, is about more than safety. Teaching kids about misrepresentation of marginalized people means revamping the curriculum. The history books in most public schools, she says, are inaccurate, particularly where topics concern native peoples.
“The school will teach kids how to be non-judgmental. You can’t say sexual orientation is a choice anymore. There’s science behind this. We can’t change the brain. We tried that already. So guess what? We change the outside to make these kids feel more congruent and happy. There’s nothing wrong with these kids,” she says.