It’s telling that some Danville Area High School students find it OK, funny or somehow satisfying to make slurs or write social media posts against the newly formed GSA Club, which, among other goals, plans to educate students and the community on LGBTQ+ issues.
The GSA, which stands for the interchangeable names Gay-Straight Alliance or Gender Sexuality Alliance, also plans to provide a safe and social space for all students, including members of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning) community.
Why have the club? The students who mock it actually make the argument in favor of the club.
While there is support for the GSA, which the administration and school board approved, club President Emma Varano, a junior, and Secretary Gwyneth Beiter, a freshman, said there is opposition, mostly from students.
“Posters have been taken down, there are social media posts,” Beiter said.
Junior Thalia Hahn, the club treasurer, said some members have felt unsafe, which is something the members hope to prevent.
“One (student) threatened physical harm to our adviser,” Varano said.
She said the student was dealt with.
Varano said that in another incident, someone took a picture of one of the posters and put it on social media, “saying we have something wrong with our heads.”
They hear slurs in the hallways in school.
“Several people have felt uncomfortable, which is why it’s important to have (the club),” said Beiter.
If people, in this case students, were accepting of people who are different than them, there might not be a need for a GSA Club.
Some might call the opposition students’ behavior homophobia, which is defined as an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. Emphasis on fear.
What are they afraid of? It is not contagious.
Maybe the students disagree with that orientation. They don’t have to adopt it.
Perhaps it is ignorance that spurs such anger and intolerance toward, not only fellow humans, but fellow students.
Varano said club members hope to advertise and campaign to gain more members. Non-transgender and heterosexual students also are welcome to join as support, added Beiter.
Hahn said there will be posters with a message such as, “It’s OK to come to our club and know you are safe.”
Varano said the group also will advocate for tolerance and serve as a resource for those who are questioning themselves.
Among the club’s goals is this: “Educate students, teachers and administrators to embrace an accepting and safer school by changing policies to deter harassment and discrimination.”
Here is hoping the courageous and compassionate club members will breed some tolerance, understanding and kindness in the school community — and the community at-large.