As the Gender Sexuality Alliance club begins to hold meetings this year, it’s focusing on the issues surrounding LGBTQ+ students at Park. According to adviser Mary Knudson, GSA hopes to advocate for a safe and welcoming school community.
“We have been talking a lot about how we see and feel the climate at Park is towards LGBTQ+ students and towards the idea of different gender identities and different sexual orientations,” Knudson said. “We’ve been talking about how we can do better as a school, and how as a club we could create content or start getting the word out to help us educate our school more about who we are and how to be an ally.”
The club aims not only to provide a safe space for students in the LGBTQ+ community, but also to hold important conversations about working towards an overall inclusive school community. Sophomore Tzziporah Leahy said the club is a way to bring LGBTQ+ students together and help them be themselves.
“It’s more than a hangout. It’s to spread awareness, bring people together and to make people more aware of LGBTQ+ (since) it’s not very widespread in school. When you first join, you can say whatever pronouns, sexuality, or gender you have, and there’s no question whatsoever,” Leahy said. “They just accept it.”
According to Knudson, the advisers and students are committed to creating change by having conversations with administration.
“The advisers of GSA (are) going to be meeting with Principal Paddock, and we’re going to be talking about being a voice for the students in the club. And then the students and advisors, in November, (are) supposed to go meet up with district representatives to talk about how SLP as a district could be more inclusive with LGBTQ+ students and identity,” Knudson said. “We also are thinking about making posters that we can put up around the school to raise awareness.”
Leahy said having a space such as GSA is crucial to making sure that curriculum and school environment is in line with GSA values and beliefs.
“It’s important because in the curriculum, no one talks about LGBTQ+,” Leahy said. “LGBTQ+ is known to the world. But people really don’t talk about it in the school and when I see those stickers on the school doors, like ‘this is a safe place,’ with a rainbow flag on it, I don’t know if they actually mean it.”
Knudson said she encourages all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, to participate in the group to help create change within Park.
“I would encourage students to join to build a community and family within SLP. And we need everybody on board if we want to change the climate and culture at SLP. We have to include everyone, we all need to be all along for the ride,” Knudson said. “Even if you don’t identify as somebody part of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s a good space to learn and to be a part of a movement and more inclusive school.”
Meetings are Wednesdays after school in room C367 from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. The meetings are anonymous and no pre-registration is necessary to be involved, meetings are open to all.