Today marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. One of the best ways to mark the day and champion the push for equality for all genders is to uplift the work of others.

The theme of IWD2022 is #BreakTheBias. Below is one of the short essays written for GHGP on: Why We Should All Work to Fight Stereotypes and Biases. Heissell Contreras is a high school student in New Jersey who has given permission to use their name.

Why should we make an effort to fight biases? I argue that because they strain our personal relationships and the relations we have with strangers, we should fight against biases. Biases are things that everyone has, whether willingly or unconsciously. I even have some biases of my own. Despite this, it is important to not only recognize them but also try to work against them. One personal relationship of mine that is now strained because of others’ stereotypes is between my mother and me. Because she has this preconceived notion that gay people are immoral and wrong, as a pansexual person, my relationship with her is now strained because I don’t feel safe coming out to her. This goes to show the impact of biases in personal relationships and how they can create tensions in personal relationships.

Furthermore, our relationship with our society can be compromised when we realize that the world works against us because of stereotypes. Because I am a person of color, it is not surprising to know that the world works against people like me. Noticing unsafe body language when I am around white people isn’t something new. Going through that has shown me how people who hold biases against others will create a divide between themselves and those people. But they are not alone, as I, too, am often scared of what people will think of me. If their mind tells them I am dangerous, I am scared they might do something to hurt me. This creates an unnecessary divide between people and an unsafe environment for all. If we work against our biases and fight them as a society, we will be able to create a safer environment for everyone in society.