GSA: More than just a club

Olivia Apostolovski, Contributing Writer

The rainbow colored posters have been plastered over every possible surface, from the cafeteria hallways to the walls in the Freshman Academy, all adorned with three large letters: GSA. The Gay-Straight Alliance, which many students believe is just for those that are lesbian or gay, when in fact, do not know the context of the club.

For the past three years, the Gay-Straight Alliance has been hosted by Ms. Westerholm, who has worked to create a positive atmosphere where students feel safe and comfortable, regardless of their sexual orientation.

This club is one of the hundreds throughout Illinois, taking part in a system being called the Safe School Alliance. The Alliance is split into two parts, one of which is an organization called Safe Schools for Illinois. The other is the Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation (CESO).

The mission of the Alliance is to, “Promote safety, support and provide a healthy environment in which the LGBTQ community can grow”, says the Illinois Safe Schools website.

The Alliance envisions a world where youth develop to their fullest potential in safe and nurturing schools and living in communities that accept and honor differences in sexual orientation and gender identity, which in today’s society, can be an overlooked problem.

This club is mostly student-run, and while the information on the website about the GSA is limited, there is much more to the club than people anticipate. Every Monday they met in room H281, from 3:30-4:30, and on average they have about 15-20 students at each meeting.

According to Ms. Westerholm, the club has received great feedback from all past and former students, who report that they feel accepted and safe in this space, as well as free to be able to express themselves without being judged.

Although this club might be a mystery to those that are not involved, there is much more to it than meets the eye. They plan various activities as well as volunteering throughout the community and attending certain events throughout the Chicagoland area. These events are primarily workshops that aim to bring the LGBTQ youth together.

While GSA is busy with their volunteer hours and community service projects, they also plan school events, such as the Day of Silence, which is an entire day where students can take a stand for those being bullied and abused by being silent. Then they fund the annual Night of Noise, which is an after-party where the acceptance of all students is celebrated.

GSA is always open to new members and supporters that are willing to come even if it is for one meeting only. Stay after school one day and visit the club, there is more to it than many will think.