Gay Straight Alliance to Meet Thursday

Amanda Newby
Staff Writer

If the potential fabulousness isn’t enough to attract a crowd, the donuts from Dunkin’ should work.

At 8:30 a.m.Thursday, the Media Center of Northrop will host its first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) meeting.

The staff sponsor, Mrs. Correll, was approached by seniors Claire Cummins and Mal Strubing and decided to sponsor because she believes that every group of people need a safe space.

“In order to create a GSA you have to out yourself, at least in some measure, and that is a very scary thing to do,” said Claire.

Scary, indeed.

Although the LGBT+ community has gained more acceptance and rights, such as the same-sex marriage ruling from June 2015, there are still many hurdles left. While couples may be recognized as married in all 50 states, LGBT+ employees can still be fired in 28 states. Only 19 states have non-discrimination laws protecting transgender people. Every year, new stories of LGBT+ teen suicide invade news stations for a few days and then disappear, becoming old news.

In Indiana, laws vary from county to county. In some parts of Indiana (like Bloomington and Indianapolis), LGBT+ workers are protected if they work for public companies. Other places like Lafayette and Fort Wayne only protect public workers on the basis of sexual orientation, not gender identity. Indiana factors LGBT+ discrimination into bias crime data, but doesn’t classify acts of violence against LGBT+ citizens as hate crimes.

Perhaps more worrying, Indiana governor Mike Pence made national headlines in 2015 for advocating a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that many were worried would have allowed businesses the right to deny LGBT+ people service, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. That law met nation-wide disapproval and was repealed shortly after Pence signed it.

In a state where laws regarding the LGBT+ community are so varied, it can be hard to feel safe as a young person in the community. This is why Mal and Claire found it to be so important to start a GSA at Northrop.

“We felt like our school needed a safe place for people of MOGAI (an acronym meaning marginalized orientations, genders, and intersex), or kids who either needed a support system or haven’t yet come to terms with their gender and/or sexuality,” said Strubing.

While it is important for LGBT+ students to have a sense of community in school, the S part of the GSA is also important. Allowing straight students to participate not only strengthens allyship (an ally is a straight person who supports the LGBT+ community), but also allows students who aren’t comfortable with being out a chance to be apart of their community without having to out themselves.

The Alliance does not have an agenda or specific plan on what will be discussed at the meeting.

“I think I’ll leave that to the people who come to the meetings,” Mrs. Correll

Both Mal and Claire agreed that there is no set schedule or agenda. The first few meetings will probably consist of all the people involved getting to know each other, and going with the flow of the group.

Eventually, Claire and Mal would like the GSA to participate in projects and events in the community, like the Great American Cleanup and the annual Pride Festival at Headwaters Park. Maybe even Pride Prom, sponsored by Fort Wayne Pride.

The only way to know exactly how the meetings will go is to go to them, starting with the first meeting on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. All students welcome!

“We’re here, we’re queer, we have a club now!” said senior Mal Strubing.

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