“I got started on gender issues in eighth grade, when I took an elective class on ‘The ’60s,’” says Maya Corral, now a sophomore at South Eugene’s International High School. “My friend and I did a project on the second wave of feminism and the controversy around birth control and gender roles.” Afterwards, she took a course on activism, including feminism. “It was eye-opening,” says Corral, the daughter of a medical-coder dad, Burt, who works from home, and a mom, Rebecca, who is executive assistant to the dean of students at the UO. “Gender roles weren’t placed on me.”
She joined the Feminist Union at South and took a class in feminist legal theory at the university. “I wrote a speech about sexual harassment and read it to the 4J school board,” she says. “Young women would tell me about incidents where guys would confront them. When I asked young men in class, they weren’t aware that their actions were wrong.” She and her friend Zoë Pringel have developed a peer education program called Respect(ed) that deals with issues of mental health and gender diversity, in addition to sexual harassment. “We go to health and PE classes, present material, have activities and do scenarios,” she says. “We do 10 to 15 presentations per trimester.”
Corral also volunteers and serves as a board member at Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon and at Ophelia’s Place, a community for young at-risk girls. She hopes to attend Barnard College in New York City, a women’s college associated with Columbia University, and to work with Planned Parenthood in the future.