Ryan Snyder guides the GSA club by balancing activism and comfort


As junior Ryan Snyder entered high school three years ago, there were moments when fear and intimidation lurked the hallways as he dwelled at the bottom of the high school hierarchy.

Therefore, when one of Ryan’s close friends asked him to join the Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club when he was only a freshman, the combination of his high school status along with the stigmatized stereotype of deviating from “normal standards” provoked a mixed response of intrigue and hesitancy.

“I was kind of reluctant to join because of the whole stereotype,” said Ryan, describing his first impression of the club. “[I wondered], ‘If I go to that club, are people going to label me as part of the [LGBTQ] community?’ And at the time, that was something that I didn’t want to be labeled as. But I think after you get okay with it, it [gets] better.”

Due to his reluctance, Ryan only attended a few meetings his freshman year; however, after adapting to the environment of the club and slowly finding comfort in its sphere of acceptance, Ryan became much more involved with GSA following his freshman year.

“Coming from an outside standpoint, you have to get adjusted to the atmosphere,” Ryan said. “You have to be okay with all of the things that go on in the meeting, and if you aren’t, it’s probably not the best place for you.”

Now, in his junior year, Ryan has taken up a position of leadership in the club. Every other Tuesday, Ryan guides discussions and various activities for a group of students who affiliate with the LGBTQ community or are “allies,” people who merely support the idea of equality.

“My whole high school career, especially junior year, has revolved around [GSA],” Ryan said. “Especially towards the beginning of the year, a lot of time went into [lesson planning]. I think almost every day, I’d sit down and say, ‘What am I going to do next week?’”

A part of Ryan’s leadership position includes organizing events that go beyond the room where the GSA club normally gathers.

On April 12, Ryan helped organize a vow of silence to show solidarity and honor the people who were victims in the Stonewall riots in 1969, which was one of the first major protests on behalf of equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

Ryan helped by spreading the message and coordinating with advisors to distribute the club’s signature rainbow ranger pride shirts.

“I think [the vow of silence] is really important,” Ryan said. “It was kind of cool to see that people who don’t normally come to the meetings want to participate in it. It’s [so] powerful that you don’t have to come to the club to support the club; your actions support the club.”

Through small yet meaningful actions, Ryan hopes to increase activism among the club’s members and draw in more members in several ways. But he also aspires to maintain the comforting feeling the club provides for various students.

In this way, Ryan claims that when he leads the club, he tries his best to find a balance between activism and comfort in order to simultaneously increase acceptance and provide solace for students.

You can be yourself in there, and nobody’s going to judge you for it.”

— Ryan Snyder

“I’d like to think [the club has helped people],” Ryan said. “I think it’s a safe place for people, even if you don’t identify with the LGBT community. You can be yourself in there, and nobody’s going to judge you for it.”

Just having the club established in the school, Ryan says, creates a more welcoming atmosphere because it instills acknowledgment and acceptance within the community, and for him, this is the utmost important aspect of the club’s existence.

“It brings the community aspect of the school closer and more accepting,” Ryan said. “[That’s] one of the most important things because if you don’t bring people together, they’re apart, and you don’t really form connections and an understanding for each other.”