High School Students Lead the Way in Unity and Acceptance
Published on 2/19/16
District News Corcoran High School Henninger High School ITC Nottingham High School PSLA @ Fowler
“I see kids putting down other people all the time,” a Nottingham student said. “It makes me sad.”
“I see a lot of transphobia on a daily basis,” another added. “It’s surprising.”
“Sometimes, people don’t even know when they’re being offensive,” a third chimed in. “People don’t think they need to be educated, which makes it really difficult.”
At Corcoran, Fowler, Henninger, ITC and Nottingham, students gather in regular Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), LGBT+ Alliance or Social Justice meetings to talk—in theory, about gender, sexuality and identity issues. In reality, these meetings have formed a type of student support group, a safe and welcoming place for students to hang out and talk about anything that may be on their minds.
At Nottingham, the LGBT+ Alliance is focusing this year on educating the community on terminology and things they may not realize when it comes to gender and identity issues. Students hope to plan a coffee house type event to tell more of the LGBT+ experience. They are even looking into the potential of creating a mural somewhere on campus in support of the club.
At Henninger, students say the goal of the GSA group is to show support for all students, regardless of who they are. The club, with a core group of about 10 who attend regularly, is currently designing a t-shirt they will sell school wide to promote women’s rights.
Senior Aurianna Dorch said the group’s small size lends itself to closer relationships. “I’m trying to open myself up,” she explained. “I feel comfortable around the people in GSA because they won’t judge. You can trust each other and know that no one is going to share your business.”
Senior Noa Ford agreed. “This is my outlet to talk about things with other people who will understand,” she said. “It’s a place where I feel safe and I know I can share anything and I won’t be looked at differently.”
At ITC, the club primarily meets to talk about issues they have seen in the media. In the beginning of the year, they talk about what it means to be an ally, they discuss gender roles and they discuss LGBTQ terminology—all in an effort to educate new members about issues facing the LGBTQ community. The group participates in the Day of Silence and other activities throughout the year, including partnerships with the Teen Institute and other clubs that aim to create unity among students.
Senior Jaydia Perry said she has noticed her peers accept the group more through her time at ITC. “Last year, a group of straight guys came in,” she explained. “It was an eye opener to them that we are a group that’s open to everyone. It’s nice getting to know people and their personalities! Sometimes, freshmen want to fit in so bad. But this group allows you to just be yourself. It teaches all of us that you can be different and still fit in.”
Fellow senior Jhalen Ryan said acceptance is key at GSA. “The group has opened my eyes to accept people for who they are,” he said. “We accept everyone, and everyone has a say. No one needs to be silent here. We will listen and we will understand.”
Research shows that when there is a GSA group in a school, all students feel safer and experience less bullying, increasing the emotional and physical well being of all youth in that school. At Corcoran, this is the first year of the “GSTA,” and students said they already feel fully accepted in the group.
“I love that there’s no judgment whatsoever in this room,” one Corcoran student expressed.
“Everyone is so caring and loving toward each other,” another added.
Thank you to all students who participate in these clubs for being an ally and encouraging SCSD high school students to accept each other. Community agencies like Contact Community Services are also crucial to the expansion of these clubs in our schools. Thank you for supporting our students!