Shaw (11) discusses Lavender Scare


Liliana Greyf, Staff Writer

Last Thursday, Vice President of Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Jacob Shaw (11) led a workshop about the Lavender Scare — the mass dismissal of queer people from their workplaces in the 1950s — and the LGBTQ community’s response. Using a slideshow of images related to the topic, Shaw provided a thorough explanation of these historical events.

Shaw began the presentation with an explanation of the Lavender Scare and the people it affected. He then discussed the response of the queer community and the resulting Homophile movement, one of the first groups that actively pursued gay rights. 

Shaw explained that while the group protested to ensure that queer people were allowed equal opportunities to jobs, they also did not do enough. They did not actually fight for the ability of queer people to exist openly and freely, only for their most basic professional rights, he said during the presentation. “It’s an issue within the larger struggle for gay rights,” he said. “It’s a very revealing view into how we got to where we are today.”

Math teacher Timothy Behan’s twelfth-grade class attended the workshop, along with a handful of students who chose to come during their free time.

Shaw’s workshop stemmed from a research paper he wrote for his Global Cold War history class over the course of this year. He has been researching and writing about the Lavender Scare since the fall, so when President of GSA Evann Penn Brown (12) asked him to conduct a workshop, he immediately knew that this would be the topic, he said.

Shaw’s presentation was important for members of the community because it was a form of education and remembrance, he said. Pride month itself is a way to remember and honor the Stonewall riots, so this presentation was a recollection of history in a similar way, he said.