Mr. Rhodes and Ms. Meyn (firstname.lastname@example.org) are the sponsors for Bartlett High School’s GSA Club. That acronym used to be short for Gay/Straight Alliance, but now those letters also mean Gender & Sexuality Acceptance. Both concepts are important.
The “Acceptance” part means that part of what we do is spread the word that, while a majority of Americans are heterosexual, there are many other types of people and attraction in our incredibly diverse world. The “Alliance” part means that this is NOT just a club for youths who are LGBTQ+ (“lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, questioning and more”). Bartlett’s GSA club serves as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ youth AND OTHERS. The only requirement is a sincere belief that all people should be treated with equal respect, and no one should be bullied.
Attendance will never be taken. Personal -- and possibly embarrassing -- questions will NOT be asked. We will NOT be talking about sex.
Mainly, GSA is now a social club with some interesting discussions, but we also host the annual Day of Silence.
Ms. Koger (email@example.com) is the sponsor emeritus and still a big spiritual part of GSA.
Not just for LGBTQ+ kids!
Straight kids welcome too!
Let's keep it drama-free!
So why do we have
a GSA Club?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “For youth to thrive in schools and communities, they need to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe and supported. … Compared with other students, negative attitudes toward LGB persons may put these youth at increased risk for experiences with violence.”
The CDC goes on to quote the findings of the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2015, with regard to LGB students:
- 10% were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property
- 34% were bullied on school property
- 28% were bullied electronically
According to GLSEN (which used to stand for Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), "many LGBT students, in response to victimization, avoid school altogether, which can strain their performance and lead to academic failure. GLSEN has advocated that ... schools, districts and states ... improve their school climates and ... make their schools safer and more affirming."
According to the True Colors Fund (truecolorsfund.org), there are 1.6 million homeless teens in the United States, and it is estimated that 40 percent of them are LGBTQ+ kids despite being only 7 percent of the youth population. “Once they are out of their homes, LGBT youth are even more vulnerable. They are at a greater risk for victimization, unsafe sexual practices, and mental health issues than non-LGBT young people experiencing homelessness.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), many LGBTQ+ youth, when thinking of "coming out" (declaring they are LGBTQ+), face many issues that others don't, such as "bullying, harassment, and family acceptance. But young bisexuals encounter additional challenges. ... Many were told bisexuality doesn’t exist, that it is just a phase, and that they are indecisive. They met with other misconceptions about bisexuality as well. And they must deal with biphobia not only from straight people, but within the LGBT population. About a third of bisexual youth reported they have been harassed frequently or called names at school, and 56 percent said they didn’t have a supportive adult in their family. Only 5 percent described themselves as “very happy,” compared with 21 percent of non-LGBT youth.