New GSA club discusses LGBTQ issues

April 1, 2019 — by Sandhya Sundaram and Amanda Zhu

GSA club is reintroduced and hopes to lead to benefits for the school and community.

After observing an overwhelming demand for a club on campus to create a space to talk about LGBTQ issues and show support, senior Phoebe Wang decided to reintroduce the Gay-Straight Alliance Club (GSA) to the school.

Junior officer Emma Cooper said that on the Saratoga High Confessions Facebook page, many students anonymously expressed their desire for a club for students who identify as LGBTQ.

“There was some sort of club like GSA a couple of years ago, but the officers graduated and it didn’t happen last year,” Cooper said. “This year Phoebe was inspired to start the club again.”

The club meets every Tuesday in Ms. Ryan’s room, Room 003. There is also a facebook group, “Saratoga High GSA” for people to join.

Guidance counselor Monique Young commented that clubs like GSA are necessary to have on campus.

“It’s important for people to have a safe space for anyone to come,” she said. “[It’s important to] bring more awareness about the LGBTQ+ community in a structured environment where kids and teachers and staff come together to support each other.”

Young noted that when these issues are unaddressed, people sometimes may say insensitive things due to confusion about topics that they don’t understand. As a result, it’s important to have clubs that can inform students and give the community an opportunity to talk, she said.

The club has had seven meetings so far. The first one was an introduction to the purpose, goals and mission of the club, while the rest of the meetings covered various topics, such as LGBTQ musicians and poets.

“We’re thinking of switching between fun days and informational days where we might talk about activists or LGBTQ famous people,” Cooper said.

In one meeting, the club discussed Audre Lorde, a poet and activist for the LGBTQ community. They have also presented on Lady Gaga, Troye Sivan and other famous LGBTQ stars.

Cooper said that about 15-20 people attended the first few meetings. She also stressed that the club is a Gay-Straight Alliance, meaning that anyone, regardless of their identity, is welcome to be a part of the club.

“You don’t have to be LGBTQ,” Cooper said. “You can just come as an ally or to be more informed.”

However, Young thinks that it may even be good to broaden the name further.

“People in the transgender community do not necessarily have anything to do with sexuality,” Young said. “So adding to the name in a way or looking and exploring LGBTQ+ and Gay-Straight Alliance together might be a possibility because it’s such a big umbrella that covers all those things.”

The club also has a Facebook Page in which officers and members post articles, videos and even memes concerning LGBTQ issues.

For example, junior officer Krithi Sankar posted an article about how the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” was criticized for inaccurate portrayal of Freddie Mercury’s sexuality. Other posts range from serious topics to more lighthearted memes.

Sankar said that the club could do a better job of reaching out to get new members through advertising meetings more. This would differentiate them from GSA in previous years, when it was not well advertised and not as many people were involved.

Young also hopes that the club will be able to get more involved with the community by spreading awareness and tolerance. In the past, some students came to staff meetings to discuss how the staff could help out, organizing various projects such as making LGBTQ pride flags and passing them out to classrooms.

“Maybe the club can spread awareness or even get involved with leadership to be able to add informational items to the announcements,” she said. “Or just do things to spread facts and awareness about the community.”

For the future, GSA wants to connect with other schools’ GSA clubs. As a new club, the officers hope to work with these schools and get more information on how to be a successful GSA by creating a space for LGBTQ teens.

“We want to reduce the stigma around being a part of this community and hopefully plan school wide events to share the LGBTQ+ narrative,” Sankar said.

Young is looking forward to see the impact that this club will have on the school and community in general.

“In the last couple of years, there have been so many issues in the news about trans people, being more open and more kids on campus who identify with more backgrounds,” Young said. “It’s more of an open thing that’s happening, so I really think that this club can make a difference.”

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