Abbot Academy, Community Features

Palmer Simpson ’23 Envisions Campus as a Wide Safe Space

By Evalyn Lee ’23

By Joy Kim ’23

Palmer Simpson ’23 reckons with his own identity as a cis-het-white male in his approach to starting more discussions surrounding race and gender. Simpson became a Student Advisory Board Member for Brace last year, and was first introduced to the Brace Center by his physics teacher  following a candid conversation about feminism.

Simpson said, “My physics teacher Ms. Artacho recommended that I look into [Brace] because we had a little discussion about feminism, and I was really interested. I wasn’t too afraid to speak up. I like sharing my opinions and that kind of stuff. And so she was like, ‘Hey, Palmer, I think you might be really interested in this. Do you want me to recommend you for getting involved?’ And I’m like that sounds awesome.”

After becoming a board member, Simpson’s initial curiosity for gender studies evolved into a habit for seeking more information. He also tries to share what he learns with his peers to encourage discussion on campus.

“Now that I am part of Brace, I think it’s changed my drive to find information…  [Now] I’m seeking it out because not only do I want to learn more, I want to be knowledgeable enough to teach people about it and to answer people’s questions and start discussions about it with my friends. I want to get a deeper understanding so that I can not just talk about it, but also teach about it,” he said.

Simpson’s approach to speaking up and engaging in conversations was initially inspired by his older sister. He admires her for her bravery to bring up topics such as LGBTQ+ rights with his family.

He said, “I think my sister is  kind of a trendsetter in my family. She’s older than me, and I feel like she really inspires me because she was the first to speak up about LGBTQ+ rights, and before that I hadn’t really considered it all that much. My family isn’t crazy conservative or crazy liberal, but we hadn’t discussed things like that and she wasn’t afraid to talk about it and bring it up and let us all know her viewpoint.”

In regard to conversations on gender inequities, Simpson acknowledges his privilege in his identity which can create blindspots. He also realizes the importance of Brace to help students like him become more aware. He used the pay gap issue as an example.

“For instance, the pay gap doesn’t really affect male-identifying people as much as it does female-identifying people. And so it’s all these issues that as a CIS white male, I probably wouldn’t have thought about. I can’t speak for everyone, on every CIS white male on campus, but if at least some of them shared the same perspective as me, I think having a place like Brace share information about those issues, it can prompt them to learn more or to consider how other people are struggling,” he said.

Furthermore, Simpson believes that a truly equitable Andover would provide a safe space, campus-wide, for all students. He believes that conversations regarding social issues shouldn’t be limited to EBI. 

He said, “I feel like the fact that we need a single space, like EBI, to talk about those issues means that people aren’t comfortable talking about them all around campus and I feel like if we can make the entirety of campus feel like a safe space like EBI is, I think that would be ideal. And that would be very helpful for everyone.”

Abbot Academy, Events, Speakers, yes+

Take Back The Night 2020

by Emma S. ’20

For the past five years the Brace center has organized a Take Back the Night march and vigil at Phillips Acadmey to stand in solidarity with all survivors and speak out against sexual assault, harrasment, and gender-based violence. Traditionally, our program has ended with a community circle on Abbot Campus uniting us in light and love.

While we are not able to gather together physically, many members of the extended PA community still stand together in support of survivors through song, dance, poetry, and word. Brace students and adults have worked together to create a video version of Take Back the Night that includes all of these messages of support and love. Our hope is that this video will unite us all in support of survivors and in the fight to end gender-based violence.

This video, and its content  deals with topics related to sexual assault, harassment, gender based violence, and self-harm. If you are feeling triggered or need a safe space, please visit some of these resources ( Ensuring safety for yourself is a sign of strength, not weakness.



This video will go live on the evening of May 19th, 2020 – at the time that we would be starting this event on campus.  It will be available for viewing for a limited about of time.

If you are able, please join the Brace Center for a community conversation following the release of this video.