LGBT Youth Are Supported by Local Gay Straight Alliance

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LGBT Youth Are Supported by Local Gay Straight Alliance

Great Crossing's GSA chapter has provided a source of support for many members and a source of education for all students.

Great Crossing's GSA chapter has provided a source of support for many members and a source of education for all students.

Seth Whittington

Great Crossing's GSA chapter has provided a source of support for many members and a source of education for all students.

Seth Whittington

Seth Whittington

Great Crossing's GSA chapter has provided a source of support for many members and a source of education for all students.

Seth Whittington, Staff Reporter

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Gender Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) across the world offer support to combat the fear and oppression Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) youth face. Sponsor Annette Manlief is a close ally to the community and formed Great Crossing’s GSA in November of 2019. The goal of the school’s GSA is to provide support and education for the LGBT community and allies.

Manlief said, “GSA tries to offer a place of acceptance, a place to be one’s self. It also attempts to offer information about LGBT community and history.”  The group meets every other week during NEST. Students in attendance at meetings this year have decided that the group’s goals should be education of key issues for the student body, as well as a place to feel safe. 

The group can be helpful to the larger GCHS community through the education aspect of its mission.  Manlief explained that she felt education about issues is important. She continued, “My hope is that exposure, even something as small as attending a Gay Straight Alliance gathering, will help others see that members of the LGBT community are just like everyone else. It’s important at the high school level, I believe, because this is a time of vulnerability for many students, finding a place to fit in. GSA offers that support.” 

By educating people outside of the community on who we are and why it isn’t something negative or something to laugh about, we can begin to end the negative stigma around the community.”

— Sylvia Hendricks

Having a reliable support system can be beneficial for everyone, but especially for teens that are part of the LGBT community. According to Lauren Kann in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article, Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12,  “A complex combination of factors can impact youth health outcomes. LGB youth are at greater risk for depression, suicide, substance use, and sexual behaviors that can place them at increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Nearly one-third (29%) of LGB youth had attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6% of heterosexual youth.”

GCHS junior Vince Van Dyke sees the importance of the group and the emotional help it gives to its members. “It’s important to have a place where kids can feel loved and accepted despite their gender or sexual orientation,” he said. “GSA supports kids by giving them a place to be their true selves without hiding anything. It’s difficult to be yourself when people either make fun of the identity or sexual orientation of someone or create an unnecessarily hostile environment.”

Members also acknowledge the impact that education can have on individuals that are not a part of the LGBT community. Junior Sylvia Hendricks is one of those members. She said, “By educating people outside of the community on who we are and why it isn’t something negative or something to laugh about, we can begin to end the negative stigma around the community.” 

If any student is wanting to attend meetings or get involved, the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 4th during NEST with Ms. Manlief in room 304.  Everyone is welcome to attend.