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GSA provides safe space

Club looks to better the community

Junior+Dayna+Krause+raises+her+voice+about+adding+LGBTQ+books+to+the+school+library+during+a+GSA+meeting+in+room+B231.
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GSA provides safe space

Junior Dayna Krause raises her voice about adding LGBTQ books to the school library during a GSA meeting in room B231.

Junior Dayna Krause raises her voice about adding LGBTQ books to the school library during a GSA meeting in room B231.

Junior Dayna Krause raises her voice about adding LGBTQ books to the school library during a GSA meeting in room B231.

Junior Dayna Krause raises her voice about adding LGBTQ books to the school library during a GSA meeting in room B231.

Ethan Meisler and Sofie Geretz

According to junior and GSA co-president Anika Jamison, she joined the Gay Straight Alliance in order to positively change the school’s community.

“I have been involved since the middle school, and I really wanted to make a change at Park,” Jamison said. “I wanted to make St. Louis Park feel like a safer community, and make sure that people feel more accepted.”

Jamison said the GSA meetings are usually discussing topical issues, but sometimes it is more social.

“Sometimes we have days where we just hang out, but normally we have meetings. We’ll talk about different issues,” Jamison said. “This week we talked about people using ‘gay’ as a bad word in school. We’ve talked about transgender issues and a bunch of stuff.”

GSA adviser and language teacher Kyle Sweeney said that this year the club is creating more support for trans and non-binary people, as well as outlawing conversion therapy.

“We’re working on expanding support for trans and non-binary folks and then also there’s an organization called Upfront Minnesota, they do all the activism in the state, and we’re following their theme of the year which is to ban conversion therapy,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said the club has changed due to the overall outlook on the LGBTQ community progressing.

“GSA has evolved a lot. When I started facilitating it 12 years ago things were really different in attitudes toward LGBTQ people and even in St. Louis Park which is a very open, accepting, diverse place,” Sweeney said.

Jamison said throughout the year she wants GSA members to understand their full potential and the club to become more known.

“My goal of the year is to try to build some confidence in the newer students. Having them realize how much they can do and how much potential they have here,” Jamison said. “And hopefully reaching out to the school a bit more, because we’re isolated a bit. I would like to let people know that we’re here and we’re trying to make St. Louis Park a better place.”

According to Sweeney, an event opportunity GSA members have is to be trained, visit the capitol, and speak to political figures.

“We organized to do this Youth Summit in March, so some students get training and can go to the capital and talk to representatives,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney said the main purpose of GSA is to create an open, safe place for all students.

“We just want to have a place where people come and be together. That’s basically our most important goal,” Sweeney said. “A place that’s safe that you can come every week, hang out, talk about stuff, and meet new people.”

Jamison said GSA members are not required to attend every meeting. She said it is a place to make friends and that members are never forced to do anything out of their comfort zone.

“You don’t have to do all the scary stuff like talking to senators or getting in touch with people. You get the opportunity to do that, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Jamison said. “It’s really relaxed, you can come and go as you like, you don’t have to be here all the time. It’s pretty awesome and you can also make a lot of friends.”

According to Sweeney, the GSA club meets every Thursday before school from about 8:05 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. in room B231.

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About the Writer
Ethan Meisler, writer/photographer

Hi, my name is Ethan and this is my first year on Echo. Outside of school, I enjoy downhill skiing, mountain biking and hanging out with friends. I love...

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