The 2016-17 school year brings an abundance of fresh faces and ideas to countless student organizations, and Gull Lake’s Gay Straight Alliance is no exception. Boasting determined and newly minted leadership, the group aims to discuss LGBT+ world issues, ways to raise awareness, and ultimately encourage acceptance of the LGBT+ community. The group ventures to provide the type of constant space students can fall back on when in need of support.
“GSA is important to me because I am, surprisingly, gay,” senior Ethan Liggett said. “I had those times where I was alone, confused, and hated myself for who I am; therefore, if I can help people skip that phase and help them out as much as I can, then that means all the world.”
Seniors Jackson Armstrong and Liggett have assumed roles as president and vice president of the organization, guiding attending students in Monday meetings from 2:30 to 3:30 in Nicole Myers’ room.
“What pushed me was the fact that GSA is so important to me as well as the LGBT community, which is such a huge part of my life,” Armstrong said. “Taking on the role wasn’t even a second thought for me; it was something I felt like I just had to step up and do.”
Having been involved with GSA for the past two years, Armstrong created the leadership positions (president and vice president) he saw as essential to the group’s ability to grow.
Liggett attended occasional meetings his sophomore and junior years and saw room for improvement in the way they were carried out, but the idea of GSA struck him as fantastic.
“I just think with our new changes and new focuses we will be able to help people more efficiently,” Liggett said.
The seniors’ motivation is both personal and aspirational-each leader stresses how crucial an accepting environment was for them and will continue to be for the student body.
“It’s something I wish more schools had because it was kind of that group I needed to understand what certain things were, and that I’m not crazy and I’m not lost,” Armstrong said.
GSA strives to build a judgement free zone in which those who may not have a resources to consult, are confused, or just need people to talk to can receive education and support.
Sophomore Athena Osburn is already grateful for the secure space the club provides.
“GSA’s important to me because I am bi myself, and I want a safe environment to be in,” Osburn said. “I hope GSA accomplishes many things like more awareness in the community and safety because I know there’s a lot of bullying.”
Along with their many goals, Armstrong and Liggett aim to be more active within the community.
“I want to make it a bigger part of the community and I want to make it a bigger part of more people’s lives- not just the LGBT community, maybe get more allies,” Armstrong said. “I want it to be noticed that we exist.”
Any Gull Lake student is encouraged to participate in weekly meeting on a drop-in basis.
“Anyone who needs a safe space to express their feelings or their confusion (is welcome), whether it is with their sexuality or anything else,” said Liggett. “We are here to help.”
Through open dialogue, GSA hopes to promote acceptance throughout the school.
“It lets people know what’s happening and if they learn about it and begin to understand then they can be more open to it,” Osburn said.
With support from administration, who endeavor to cultivate a safe place for their students, GSA intends to continue their mission in a number of ways (including the yet-to-be-announced Puzzle Project). Providing opportunities for positive discussion and expression, however, remains central in all plans.
President Jackson Armstrong addresses attendees Mackenzie Sternburgh, Athena Osburn, Destiny Peterson, Jessica McMillan, Sylvia Nuyen, Dallas Fuller, and Anna Vandeweert. The meeting is centered around definitions and is supervised by Nicole Myers.