Gay Straight Alliance Vision Grows

GSA aims to open doors for everyone

Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is a club that has been around for years, but recent societal developments have led to the issues they are working to address and explore becoming more and more prevalent in the media. GSA is a group that works toward bringing awareness towards LGBT issues, as well as offering a supportive and welcoming location for any and all students.

The existence of the club represents Austin High as an open and unprejudiced environment, a reassuring element for Austin High SEL specialist Sarah Stone.

“I am a mother of a 6 year old in first grade and I want her to feel safe to be who she is, whoever that may turn out to be,” Stone said. “All students deserve to feel safe at school.”

Junior Chase Moralez, president of the club, emphasizes the openness of the club.

“We don’t have any rules on who can come, it’s not just specifically LGBT. Straight people come, we don’t just handle LGBT problems,” Moralez said.  “Nobody can really be discriminated against, everyone is welcomed to the club… [it’s] a really peaceful and respectful community where everyone just can talk about things.”

While the atmosphere of the club is very open and casual, the group is working towards becoming more organized and involved in both the school and the city of Austin. They already marched in the August 29 Pride parade downtown, contributed to serving breakfast with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and have done a yearly “Day of Silence”. In the future, GSA hopes to achieve even more, and one of their concrete plans is to partner with Out Youth and host a Queer Prom at Austin High.

“We’re hoping to have a more consistent group. We’re trying to expand beyond the club, and try to get everyone in the school to participate,” Morales said. “The past year we haven’t had many members, so we haven’t really had a structured system for GSA, but hopefully this year we’ll have a bigger system because more people will join up.”

According to Morales, the existence of GSA at Austin High is to represent a larger organization, No Place for Hate. No Place for Hate came into existence in Austin schools in 2004, and so far Austin ISD has been named the largest No Place for Hate district in the entire country for two years (2014-2015). The organization works to create initiatives that will help “to create and sustain inclusive school environments where all students feel valued and have the opportunity to succeed.” Stone is a big supporter of these initiatives, and emphasizes the importance of Austin High working towards making sure it’s always safe for students to be their authentic selves.

“Working to understand and work through bias is a lifelong journey for each of us and is something we can’t do alone,” Stone said. “It takes sustained communal effort to create safe, inclusive schools for all.”

GSA / No Place for Hate meetings take place every Wednesday at lunch in room 269; everyone is welcome and encouraged to come.