11th grader Zoe Hermer-Cisek runs the Coming Out Stand (Mimi Geller)
11th grader Zoe Hermer-Cisek runs the Coming Out Stand

Mimi Geller

GSA impacts community with LGBTQ+ Month

Reflecting on the activities and events of LGBTQ+ History Month — and their effect on students.

November 1, 2017

October is LGBTQ+ History Month, and the Gender and Sexuality Awareness club (GSA) has organized numerous activities and events to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community — an impressive and important undertaking. It’s not easy to convey so much information to a diverse community, especially in a concentrated period of time. Aaron Datta, the president of the GSA, has planned extensively.

“We try to come at it from multiple aspects,” Datta said, describing their approach. The GSA has tried to facilitate conversation through an abundance of activities during the month. These include the Coming Out Stand, a speaker on homeless LGBTQ+ youth and books written by LGBTQ+ persons on display in the library.

Several of these activities had a positive impact that led to discussion and increased awareness. On National Coming Out Day, the Coming Out Stand was a table stationed next to the Dean’s office in the hallway, encouraging conversation and questions. According to the Human Rights Campaign, National Coming Out Day is also in regards to those coming out as allies, not just those coming out as LGBTQ+. On the table, students could view anonymous coming out stories from students at SPA, which educated students on how to react when someone they know comes out and what the process is like for someone that is “in the closet.”

However, some activities may have had unintended consequences. For instance, the LGBTQ+ History Kahoot was a quiz sent to all advisors, and the top-scorer from each advisory was rewarded with candy. This could have the opposite effect of what they were trying to achieve; those who put effort into familiarizing themselves may have felt discouraged if they didn’t do well in the quiz, and those who were already knowledgeable were rewarded, which makes others feel unwelcome. Nonetheless, the GSA’s actions were never confrontational.

We’ve always been here, we’ll always be part of society and we’re everywhere.

— Aaron Datta

The climate at SPA is inclusive, yet Datta understands that there is sometimes opposition. “We try to inform people on what transphobia and homophobia looks like, and what effect it has,” they said. The ideas presented this month were not a political opinion, but an effort to spread awareness. In fact, informing students was the GSA’s primary objective in the month of October. There has been growing support for the LGBTQ+ community in the past decade and demoting heteronormativity makes an impact, as Datta explained. “We’ve always been here, we’ll always be part of society and we’re everywhere,” they said, “we want to try to educate each other and create a space where people can go and seek more information.”

Every student should have learned something during the month; the GSA made a tremendous effort to increase their presence in the school and share their message. Some actions may have gone unnoticed or had limited success, which the GSA can learn from next year, but they should stand as an example for all student clubs wanting to impact the community.

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