In an attempt to accommodate transgender students and those it says may be unsure about their sexual identity, the student government at Milton Academy voted last week to eliminate rules requiring equal boy and girl representation on the student council.
Benjamin “Mack” Makishima, a senior and cochairman of the council, said the change was not made for any particular students but because, “demographically, we figured it would likely become a factor, and we figured it would be the fair thing to do.”
The vote on Monday removed language requiring “one boy, one girl” representation for most of the student council seats. The vote retained equal representation from boys’ and girls’ dormitories, to prevent the council from being overwhelmingly one gender, Makishima said in an interview.
“Our student government was created in a different world, a world in which identity was seen through a more old-fashioned, overly simplistic lens,” Makishima wrote in an article in The Milton Paper, a school newspaper.
“We as a community in the modern age have moved beyond these archaic norms and have begun to accept the world and the people within it the way they are now. Or at least, we are starting to do so.”
He said the new rules would make students who are transgender, or “grappling with their identities,” feel included.
Milton Academy’s dean of students, Jose Ruiz, praised the students’ initiative as “thoughtful, responsible, [and] thorough.”
“As a school that values diversity of all kinds, we support their effort toward creating a more inclusive student government,” Ruiz said in a statement Wednesday.
Milton Academy is a private day and boarding school with 700 students, from kindergarten through high school, on a bucolic campus 10 miles from downtown Boston.
Founded in 1798 and known as a feeder to Ivy League colleges, the prep school’s alumni include poet T.S. Eliot, architect Buckminster Fuller, singer James Taylor, both Robert and Edward Kennedy, comedian Jenny Slate, and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.
Originally a coed institution, Milton Academy split into separate schools for boys and girls, and gradually went back to its coed roots through the 1970s and ’80s. The school is now divided equally among males and females, according to its website.
Tuition for day students is $43,780 and boarding students pay $53,330; about 35 percent of students receive financial aid, according to the website.
Milton Academy’s motto is “dare to be true,” and in his article Makishima asked, “How can we ‘dare to be true’ to ourselves and to each other if we are making others be people they are not, simply for a position in the student government?”
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.