Gay-Straight Alliance Promotes Awarenss About LGBTQ Community

The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) held a spirit week Oct. 20- 24 to promote acceptance and awareness of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) community in RHS and to raise publicity for the club.

“The goal of the spirit week [was] to promote awareness,” GSA treasurer sophomore Jazmin Eckroth said. “The [spirit week] is dedicated to showing support and acknowledging the differences in the LGBTQ community.”

GSA is composed of 23 student members from all grades. Their goal is to support and encourage differences in others and create a safe space within the school for everyone to express themselves freely without fear of judgment, particularly on matters of gender and sexuality.

Themes that the GSA included in their spirit week were purple day on Monday, remembrance day on Tuesday, gender expression day on Wednesday, flag or identity day on Thursday and rainbow day on Friday. Each day’s theme was reported on the morning announcements in an effort to involve as many students as possible in the spirit week.

Each theme chosen corresponded to a significant part of LGBTQ culture. Remembrance day was meant to honor all those who had experienced bullying, abuse or even lost their lives during the struggle for gender equality. Gender expression day and flag day gave students the opportunity to show what gender or sexuality they personally identified with in the LGBTQ community.

The GSA also raised awareness of the LGBTQ community by having a guest speaker come to their meeting Oct. 15 and making the meeting open to everyone, including students who were not currently involved in the club. The guest speaker, Mark Cain, had been previously diagnosed as HIV positive and chose to talk about his personal experiences, along with topics such as the AIDS pandemic.

“I think it’s good for any group to bring in speakers a�� It is far more beneficial than to hear it from the same person all the time,” GSA sponsor Dana Sato said. “A number of people have requested that [Mark Cain] come back. I hope his talk helped raise awareness [of the LGBTQ community] and that people will continue to learn.”

Another important day in the LGBTQ community that GSA celebrated this year was National Coming Out Day Oct. 11. On that day, previously closeted members of the community are encouraged to “come out” to family members and friends. Throughout the nation, GSA clubs celebrate this day to provide overall support.

“The day is beneficial to the LGBTQ community because it allows members of the community to be among others who have been dealing with similar problems and show them that they are not alone a�� It validates that people can come out of hiding their true selves,” sophomore GSA member Joelle Miller said.