Upper school biology teacher shares insights on gender and sexual identity at club meeting


Emma Gao

Upper school biology teacher Eric Johnson shares an anecdote on when they gave up shiny red shoes they saw at the store under family pressure that the shoes were too “girly.” Teacher Johnson, who goes by they/them and he/him pronouns, explained that part of his journey was forgiving his past self during a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meeting in Main room 21 on Feb. 10.

by Emma Gao, Co-Copy Editor

Upper school biology teacher Eric Johnson presented on how biology supports the existence of diverse and nuanced gender and sexual identities at a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meeting in Main room 21 on Feb. 10 during long lunch.

27 students and eight faculty members filled the seats of upper school Modern and Classical Languages Department Chair and GSA adviser Abel Olivas’ classroom to hear Teacher Johnson’s presentation. They began by explaining the nuances of their personal history, including how they learned to forgive their younger self for not fully embracing their gender and sexual identity, as they did the best they could to survive. 

Johnson, who goes by they/them and he/him pronouns, then transitioned towards the second part of his presentation that focused on biological concepts surrounding gender and sexuality. Referring to the variations that abound within chromosomes and secondary sex characteristics, which are features that appear in humans after puberty, he emphasized the rich complexity of biology that correlates with a diverse range of sexualities.

“Love and sexual orientation is a spectrum, and we’ve got to accept that because that’s the truth,” Johnson said in his presentation. “The world is constantly in flux, [and] nothing is fixed. Saying that sexuality is fixed is the least biologically correct.”

The numerous misconceptions surrounding gender identity that Johnson debunked surprised attendee Harshini Chaturvedula (10). She remembers when he showed a spreadsheet of all the animals that did not fall into the gender binary and questioned why humans felt compelled to confine themselves to it.

“After I left that meeting, I felt a lot more open-minded,” Harshini said. “The atmosphere and the way in which Teacher Johnson delivered the messages themselves gave me a lot of food for thought. Pointing out the misconceptions that society has been placed under really made me realize, ‘Oh wow, so there’s a lot more that we’re not seeing.’”

Johnson concluded their presentation with the message “Find your marigolds.”

“I do this work to align my spiritual core with the love and authenticity of the people that came before me and the generations to come,” Johnson said.