Even though there may be a few misconceptions about what the Gay Straight Alliance club is truly about, club adviser Gayle Franks, sets the record straight.
“Gay Straight Alliance is a place for students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgender and allies to feel safe and to work to create a safe environment within the school and in the community,” Franks said.
Franks has a background with working in a wide variety of fields where diversity is the main focus.
“When I was in college I did a lot of diversity work. I was also the diversity adviser at Aylen Junior High School for the year that I was there,” Franks said.
Franks mentioned that the club hopes to raise more awareness about gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgender teens and to educate more people about what they all mean.
“Fifty percent of transgender teens commit suicide before they graduate from high school. It is a huge problem,” Franks said. “With gays and lesbians the suicide rate is about 30 to 40 percent. There is still not a lot of understanding in the world today about what transgender and gay and lesbian is.”
Several fundraisers are conducted in GSA to not only raise awareness but also to simply have fun.
“We have the Purple Prom, which is a district dance. Part of it is a fundraiser but part of it is also a place where gay and lesbian students can bring their partners and not feel like they are being judged,” Franks said.
One of the activities that occurs each year in the club includes a panel where GSA members can share their stories.
“We do Orton’s Gay Straight Alliance panel. It helps to break down the stereotypes in the school itself so that the kids can understand the experiences that lead these students to where they are at now,” Franks said. “He has a list of questions and they only tell what they are comfortable telling. The panel happens every semester with his multicultural studies class.”
A fashion show was also conducted last year as a part of the activities to raise awareness of LGBT teens.
“The GSA members did a fashion show which was a charity auction as well. Part of the proceeds went towards Rainbow House which is a Tacoma counseling center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Franks said.
GSA is always welcoming of any new students who want to become a club member.
“There are currently about 13 members. Everyone is welcome to join; they can just come right in. The meetings are on the first and the third Tuesdays of the month,” Franks said.
Franks then explains her reasoning on why she feels the GSA club is different from other clubs.
“GSA club has a family feel. It allows kids to really act normally without prejudice. They know they can be here and be themselves,” Franks said.