New Group Aims for LGBTQ+ Inclusion

New Group Aims for LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Camila Zuloaga

The first meeting of the Gay-Straight Alliance took place on May 6 with approximately 20 students and staff members in attendance. 

For their ISC project Seniors, Livna Tenenbaum and Sofia Pulgarin founded a Gay-Straight Alliance club to create a safe and more accepting space at school for students regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The alliance is a student-led organization that unites LGBTQ+ members with straight students and it brings attention to issues impacting individuals in their schools and communities through informational activities and support from peers.

“We seek to make the school environment more respectful and safe, although we are aware not everyone has the same opinion or acceptance regarding the LGBTQ+ community, the minimum we can do as members of school is to encourage fundamental values and foster respect,” Sofia Pulgarin, Senior and GSA leader, said.

The GSA was first founded in San Francisco in 1998 and with many new GSA subsections locally and internationally, in order to work towards racial and gender justice in schools. In past years, multiple students have expressed interest in starting a GSA, with hopes of joining a club where they can feel included, recognized, and supported. This prompted Pulgarin and Tenenbaum to implement this innovative project.

“Joining this club would be an opportunity to meet new people that are friendly and accepting, being able to connect, collaborate  share triumphs with others while  also giving students the chance to get involved on campus community without needing to worry about intolerance or discrimination,” Pulgarin said

Although this project is relatively new at TCS, many students have expressed their excitement to support the LGBTQ+ community, either as members or allies. Leaders, Pulgarin and Tenenbaum have posted banners around the school informing students about the club and encouraging them to join through a QR code inscription. During Wednesday’s advisory students were informed and given the chance to sign up. 

“When I saw this new club, I didn’t hesitate to join, I have cousins in the US, that are members of the GSA at their school, and there has been nothing more than positive comments about the club, and the space it creates for students to advocate for and solve neglected challenges in this community while also having the chance to make friends,” Ilana Garza, Grade 11, said.

The club is a student-led project, however, most schools generally have a faculty sponsor that can propose ideas for discussion or simply show support for the members. The new club is being advised by chemistry and biology teacher, David Schas, and discrete math/calculus, and ISC teacher Agatha Prymicz. While teachers and adults may facilitate discussions or provide a routine place for meetings, all activities and decisions must come from students.

“My role is to make sure everyone’s protected and safe while facilitating any administrative stuff and dealing with conflict resolution. I love the diversity and having the opportunity to see kids get to be who they truly are is really powerful,” Schas said.

The club is anticipating a series of meetings where they will be discussing the group’s visions for the GSA and establish collective goals and needs.

“We’re doing workshops, mind mapping activities, learning about the community, how to be an ally, sharing personal experiences and we’re thinking of bringing alumni to talk as well. It’s just like a very safe space,” Livna Tenenbaum, Senior and GSA Leader, said.

This project has shown prominent results in improving the school atmosphere around the world. Students have shown a minimized fear of being rejected or bullied by their peers and the club has created a sense of belonging where they may be open about their sexual orientation.

“It’s an amazing project that will leave a legacy. In my old school, the greatest benefit I saw was the allies. If they saw a student being bullied or treated poorly, they were more willing to speak up and say hey, that’s not right, that’s not what we are as a community, ” Paul Navarra, High School Vice-Principal, said.