Affinity Spaces

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What is an affinity space?

An affinity space is a "safe place" where all participants share a common component of identity or a common passion. Often times, the students facilitate these spaces, or at least discuss topics that they are interested in. These groups are similar to groups like Girls on the Run or Velocity (for boys).

Recently, Glover Community School has partnered with Building Fearless Futures (BFF) to start a few affinity spaces for students. BFF members join students remotely rather than in-person due to the current pandemic.

Why does OCSU offer affinity spaces?

The affinity spaces strive to decrease risk factors by providing students a space that can serve as a reprieve from bullying and unsafe feelings while also promoting a school environment of inclusivity and social equity. They also promote protective factors by being a safe space where students can connect with adults from their community and with adults within their school. A person might think of these spaces as a support group.

Every two years, middle and high schools across Vermont administer the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This survey helps to identify risky behaviors that students participate in, such as drinking and drug use. It also helps identify mental health considerations like feelings of depression and suicidal ideation. This survey allows students to indicate if they are feeling bullied or mistreated by others as well.

Because of the pandemic, the last set of data was taken in 2019 and was just released in the spring of 2021. It's clear from the data that female students, students of color, and those who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience the risk factors like physical violence, bullying, suicidal ideation, and an overall unsafe feelings.

What spaces do we offer in OCSU?

At this time, we are offering an affinity space for k-8 BIPOC students from any of our schools. The BIPOC Affinity Space is for kids who identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. Especially in Vermont, where 94.2% of the population is white, folx of color are often the only people of color in a room. This isolation can take its toll on students and adults, and affinity groups are a way to counter this isolation.

Glover is also offering a Female Identifying Affinity Space and a Social Justice League Space. We've only opened these up to one cohort but will expand to other cohorts and OCSU Schools as the year progresses if there is interest.

The Social Justice League serves students of all identities. The group's common passion is a desire to discuss justice in the social sphere- racial justice, queer justice, disability justice, and gender justice. This is a group where students can start to explore their various identities regardless of their relationship to the dominant culture. It's a great first step to explore what it means to be in a space with other like minded individuals.

The Female Identify Space is a place for all folx who identify as female. As kids get older and gender issues become more prevalent it's helpful to be able to be amongst ones own female identifying peers to work out some of these issues and feel a sense of camaraderie.

Will you offer other affinity spaces?

We are interested in offering the following affinity spaces and will expand the list based on student needs:

  • Male Identifying
  • Students with Disabilities

We can also expand the currently running spaces to other schools if there is interest.

Who facilitates these spaces?

Only adults who share the group's common identity or passion can facilitate these spaces. Therefore, the BIPOC group is run by BIPOC folx. The Female Identifying Space is run by female identifying folx.

How can my child access an affinity space?

If your child wants to join an affinity space, we're seeking your permission. Please fill out the form below so that we can plan accordingly.

This permission form also includes a place for your questions. Whether you want to sign your child up for a space or not, you can always pose questions.

Are affinity spaces mandatory?

The quick answer is "No". Affinity Spaces are optional spaces that students can choose to join with your permission. Without parent permission, students do not participate in these spaces. The form below serves as permission for your students to contribute. If you do not want your child to participate, you should not fill out the form.