A step towards equality; that’s what Shaker High School senior, Jack Einstein says the goal of his “I AM HUMAN” project is. It began as an assignment in English teacher Thea MacFawn’s class, tasking students to take part in an advocacy project.
“It’s an assignment that became a lot bigger than I intended it to become, but I’m really happy it did,” said Einstein.
The I AM HUMAN project is a student-led human rights campaign, focused on raising awareness about transgender rights and creating space for open dialogue about the treatment of transgender students in schools. Einstein’s campaign initially started with his classmates at Shaker, to whom he handed out stickers with the campaign’s title and a transgender symbol in the middle.
Einstein says his intent is for people to ask what the symbol means as a way of getting the conversation started.
“I love the idea that I can change someone’s opinion, but I’m also of the same opinion that you’re entitled to an opinion,” said Einstein. “I just want respect. As long as you respect someone else when you’re talking to them, they will likely respect you.”
Einstein first used stickers as a method of spreading a message in 10th grade, when he created a campaign to stop child abuse for a separate class project. Two years later, his focus became transgender students who are at risk of being bullied.
“We are proud of Jack Einstein for demonstrating in the courage of his convictions that the dignity and human rights of all students is important and upholds the mission of our district,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr.
Since his class assignment earlier this year, Einstein has presented to the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Civil and Human Rights Committee, as well as a few local high schools. After graduation in June, Einstein’s goal is to continue to spread his message of equality in high schools and colleges, while he majors in international studies at Seton Hall University.
“I have a voice and I have a strong voice,” he said.