by Maria Patterson
During the school year, students at Reagan can join endless different clubs ranging from the Art Club to the Yearbook. One club that is special and dear to many is the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). This club explores the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and creates a safe place for people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and/or support the community. GSA adds value to the Reagan community and helps to support the students who are in search of a place where they are safe and are encouraged to be themselves.
UWM Graduate, Ms.Loos, is advising GSA this year and says, “I have always tried to be involved in some way.” Many students can say the same with regards to GSA. GSA helps inform our community at Reagan and keeps us connected and reminds us that we are together.
We need to address LGBTQ+ injustices now. Administrations are making an effort to establish difficulties for the LGBTQ+ community to access health insurance, and are trying to force transgender individuals to use facilities they don’t necessarily want to use. These issues need to be resolved, and we need to take advantage of our voices being heard and you can make a change by joining GSA.
While interviewing Governor Tony Evers about LGBTQ+ rights he said, “Diversity makes us stronger as a society.” He is right. As a society, we need to be inclusive. We need to care about others and stand up for our friends and family. After all, we all bleed the same blood.
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community is very important to countless people. Maybe you’re like Ms.Loos and supporting the community is important to you because you are surrounded by the presence of the community. Or maybe you are part of the community. Either way, it is key to accept yourself and support others.
Many people have fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and LGBTQ+ rights haven’t been around for very long. For example, gay marriage was finally legalized on July 26, 2015. That just over 5 years ago! Yet, people still have to fight for equality. Two years ago the pride flag had flown for the first time in the Capitol and will continue to do so. This was a small step, but essential to show how important advocating really is.
Little things do mean a lot. That is why supporting the community is significant. It shows that we care about the people around us. According to the National Education Association, “While some students are open about their LGBTQ identity at school, only 21% are out at home.” This is why we need to be open and caring to our community here at Reagan, to let each other know that who they are is okay.
As claimed by Mental Health America, “Sixty percent of LGBT students did not report incidents to school staff. One-third who reported an incident said the staff did nothing in response.” At Reagan, we have lots of support systems and we need you to know that we are here for you. If something is happening and you don’t know how to deal with it, reach out. If you can’t, visit https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ for the LGBTQ+ helpline. Additional resources include https://www.glbthotline.org/talkline.html, https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/support/hotlines, and https://www.youthline.ca/.
After asking Gov. Tony Evers, “Do you think supporting the [LGBTQ+] community has helped your career as Governor,” he replied, “Some people would say no.” And he’s right, supporting the LGBTQ+ community isn’t a priority to some. First, let’s take a look into what homophobia is.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines homophobia as the irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. There is also biphobia (“...fear, hatred, discomfort, or mistrust, specifically of people who are bisexual,” says Planned Parenthood) and transphobia (“...fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are transgender, genderqueer, or don’t follow traditional gender norms,” Planned Parenthood explains). Many people have these phobias and Ms. Loos says, “A lot of close-mindedness comes from misunderstanding.” To prevent homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, we can educate our community and make sure that people have a strong understanding of homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, etc. GSA members and extra are here for any questions you may have and we are here to educate Reagan.
As Tony Evers said in response to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, “It’s just the right thing.” And, it is. We are stronger as a community if we know that we can rely on each other.
If you would like to join GSA, we meet every other Monday from 1-1:30. The Google Classroom the code is gk3dpy6. We look forward to seeing you!
As Freddie Mercury once said, “Don’t be afraid to show off your true colors.”