Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Opening a Door

Posted 12/13/2015 by Lucy Peterson

artwork courtesy of the Gay Straight Alliance

GSA is opening a door for the community, and is providing a safe place for students.

The Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student-run club that allows students to support each other and work to end homophobia and other occurrences of prejudice, discrimination, and intolerance. This club supports individuals who are struggling with identity and provides confidentiality for these students, while giving them the opportunity to educate themselves and the broader community about sexual orientation and gender identity issues. To do this, they bring in speakers to help shed light on issues that are often overlooked in today’s busy society.

During GSA meetings, the members discuss the plans for the year, what activities the club plans on participating in, and at times simply talk to each other about their situations and how to educate their classmates on these specific issues. This year, the club supported Ally Week, an event where students pledge their support and receive a GSA rainbow wristband. The purpose of this event is to work toward becoming better allies with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) youth. Ally Week occurred during the last week of September. TJ’s Ally Week was successful this year, bringing awareness to a larger community and showing others who are struggling with their identity that they still belong. Although Ally Week is over, the club plans on participating in the Day of Silence, which will occur on April 26th; students can pledge a day of silence to remember those in our society who perceive that they have no voice. This movement helps call attention to the bullying of people in the LGBTQ community.

Since the formation of GSA at TJ, members feel that they are being more universally supported than ever before. Linda Estlund, a psychology and civics teacher at TJ, decided to sponsor this club a few years ago, and said, “I’ve had friends and family who experienced discrimination because they are gay. This is a group that unfortunately still experiences prejudice.” Estlund chose to sponsor the club because she, as well as the students in the club, wanted to inform TJ and the greater community of the prejudice that many people in the world today face regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Estlund continued, “By promoting our group’s mission and meeting times, we make it clear to the TJ student body that GSA, by its very nature, is safe and inclusive.”

Every meeting, the club hopes to continue to shine a light on the larger problems in the world regarding sexual orientation and discrimination against the LGBTQ community. GSA meets every Thursday at lunch in room 226. Stop by and become a part of a movement that can help change lives.