Gay-Straight Alliance Club Provides Outlet For Students

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Gay-Straight Alliance Club Provides Outlet For Students

Susannah Bennett, Junior Writer

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“The second you get there, as soon as you walk through the doors, you’re accepted for who you are, no matter what,” said president of FHC’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, junior Katianna Mansfield.

In the GSA club, there are more than just meetings and hangouts with friends who share similar passions. There’s an unconditional acceptance and a feeling of belonging. Over the past two years, their welcoming and safe environment has attracted more students to GSA, whether they are heterosexual or LGBTQ+. According to Katianna, the number of members have nearly tripled in the last two years. When Katianna was a freshman, few people came to the meetings, but recently, the club has taken off, and over thirty people currently attend meetings.

“It’s amazing because freshman year, we had four people and no idea what we wanted to do that year or what goals we wanted to accomplish.” Katianna said. “Now, in my junior year, there are thirty plus people. We discuss everything now; it’s an open ended conversation where everyone has a say.”

Every other week on Tuesdays, GSA meets from 3 to 4 p.m. in English teacher and club supervisor Jonathan Fisher’s room. People of all sexualities are welcome. Discussions include topics about their goals, feelings, and experiences about their sexuality. On weeks where they don’t meet at school, members get together informally to work on the ideas they discussed and take action.

GSA takes action not only with sexuality, but with issues around the area. Recently, GSA went to support Daniel Behm, superintendent of FHPS, during the school board meeting about complications surrounding the Betsy Ross and Donald Trump flags at an FHC football game. Members of GSA brought signs and sided with Behm; their support spoke volumes to Behm and he seemed to be greatly impacted, according to GSA members.

Aside from supporting people in the community, GSA has hoped to gain higher recognition and increase the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Senior and vice president Payton Walli is passionate about these recent goals and intentions of GSA.

“A lot of people are ignorant about these issues,” Payton said. “There are laws protecting people of different races, but there still aren’t laws protecting LGBTQ+ communities from discrimination.”

Advocating for Michigan laws concerning their rights is a lofty goal for a high school club. GSA is starting by proposing the inclusion of LGBTQ+ rights in FHCs student handbook, which they hope will help to eliminate ignorance and promote awareness. Though GSA strives for improvements at FHC, the current community is already commendable.

“Having a group like this that knows what you’re going through is really comforting,” said sophomore and trustee Zoe Libich. “Everyone is just so supportive and welcoming.”

FHC is very privileged to have a GSA group, as they are a scarcity in high schools. In fact, only 49 of the 1,575 high schools in Michigan have a GSA club. Despite the irregularity of the club, the FHC community has been very accepting of LGBTQ+ people. According to Payton, some high schools have anti-GSA clubs and people often face discrimination for their sexuality at other schools. Fortunately, FHC has been a compassionate and welcoming area for GSA and the inequity has been kept at a minimum. Nothing in the community has hindered the growth of the club, and members have become increasingly close because of GSA.

“Honestly, to me, GSA is this huge group of people who love each other unconditionally, and you don’t see that very often,” Katianna said. “You don’t see people who have such a broad connection with each other, unless they’re brothers and sisters.”

Love and understanding is what bonds these students and staff together to form GSA. As a tight knit group, members of GSA feel like they belong and are accepted for who they are. Every member cares and loves each other without reservations, which only makes the club closer.

“It is probably the only place in the school that you can be whoever you want or whatever you want and nobody will judge you,” Fisher said. “We are a social support group first and foremost. We are here to help people feel loved, supported and accepted.”

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