High Schoolers Attend Lighthouse Conference

Women's Support Networks Discussed

A Lighthouse Magazine conference Saturday attended by about 125 female high school students from around New England stressed the need for women's support networks.

Doubling in size from last year, the magazine's second annual conference also emphasized the need for decrying violence against women.

The conference was part of Lighthouse's goal to provide a forum for women's issues, said Holly K. Tabor '94, who has written for the magazine for two years.

Maureen A. Langloss '93, who co-ordinated the conference, said the program was a success because it allowed students to discuss women's issues in a "relaxed, supportive environment."

"For a lot of girls this was all very new," she said. "We were giving them something they would not have gotten anywhere else."

Sarah M. Buel, director of the Domestic Violence Unit of the Suffolk Country District Attorney's Office, addressed the issue of domestic violence.

Langloss said Buel's speech, which mixed personal experience with an explanation of why it is difficult to leave abusive relationships, set the tone for the entire day.

"It made people emotionally involved in the day. It charged people," Langloss said.

In the evening, participants watched "Calling it Rape," a play produced by Daniela Raz '94 that draws from Harvard women's experiences with sexual violence.

Earlier in the day, a panel of Harvard women discussed their owners experiences as female leaders. Karen E. Boyle '94, Maitri Chowdhury '93, Sarah Igo '91-92, Katherine Pearson '93 and Natosha O. Reid '93 all emphasized the importance of support networks to help women find the strength to stand up for women's issues.

"It was good for students to see people so close to their own ages that have made a difference," Langloss participants engaged in workshops on subjects including gender dynamics, health and body issues and women is in legislation.

"It was great," said Amy E. Dahm from the Dana Hall School. "I was exposed to a lot of opinions I wouldn't have gotten in my own school."

Swagata B. Chakrabouti, a junior from Phillips Andover, said she attended the conference because she felt very strongly about women's issues. According to Chakrabouti, many of the other female students in her school "shrug [women's issues] off."

"I'm having conflicting opinions with some people in my school and no way of coming to terms with them," Chakrabouti said.

Although the panelists all agreed that both men and women should be involved in feminist issues, men were not invited to the conference.

"[Gender issues] are as important for men." Langloss said. "But we thought it would make it more difficult to discuss them. The girls wouldn't be as honest."

But Tabor expressed mixed emotions about the exclusion of men from the conference.

"It's a hard thing to do. There are a lot of positive things in men and women talking together," Tabor said. "We want to encourage high school men to talk about it as well.