GSA of Stockbridge initiated


Jacey Gustafson

“The GSA makes me feel more supported and valid because the other members make me realize i’m not alone,” sophomore Melanie Eskew said. She came out in 2017 and described not exactly feeling supported or valid, but does now with the support of this group.

Sophomore Eleanor Diffenbaugh was up late watching videos on YouTube. One explored a compilation of recordings of voice change from a female to male transgender person on testosterone over a 9 month period. Diffenbaugh sat up in her bed and started thinking back, questioning if she was really a girl. She then concluded she didn’t like her high pitched voice and she never felt comfortable in her body.

Eleanor then realized that he was Graham Diffenbaugh.

Graham didn’t feel like he belonged. He felt brought down because of homophobia and transphobia within the school’s environment. That was until he went to a GSA meeting.

“I haven’t been in a group of people where they welcomed each other so warmly,” Graham said. GSA is short for Gay-Straight Alliance, a club that exists to provide a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ students. GSAs can create their own goals to decrease discriminatory acts, build awareness and provide a secure place for LGBTQ+ students.

The GSA of Stockbridge has officially formed on October 31, when LGBTQ+ teens and allies held a meeting with principal, Jeff Trapp to present their reasoning to form the club.

Meetings take place Mondays and Wednesdays, after school from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Pam Gower’s room and meetings are open to all students.

Why a GSA? Imagine feeling not included because of something you can’t control. Imagine feeling left out, trapped or afraid because of sexuality or gender identity. With a GSA, this small school can create a better environment for LGBTQ+ students and those who want a better understanding of the community.

“I definitely think the GSA will contribute to helping improve the school culture,” one of the founders, junior Andrew Carriero said. “We are striving for a more inclusive mindset so that people will see that everyone is a human.”  

Gower also thinks that the school should have a GSA. Her strategy is to let students find and create objectives, following the adviser’s handbook on the GSA Network.

Strengthening alliances will definitely maintain the best things about our school environment and improve the areas that need work,” Gower said.

Even though the group is student-led, she still thinks it has a good focus. “I’ve observed a few meetings and can tell that the students in the group are dedicated to building alliances in our school community.”

A fearless community is one that can stick together and be one. We all need to feel included, supported and loved.

“Depending on the situation, it can be a dangerous thing to reveal who you are to the world. With this group, we hope to eliminate that fear,” freshman Joshua Peña said.

According to The Trevor Project, a non-profit institution directed towards LGBTQ+ youth, LGBTQ+ teens are five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual teens. Some teens don’t have a safe home life. With this organization, they could have a family of their own, full of support and friendship. Some kids also are not out to their families, so a GSA could help them feel more comfortable with their sexuality and gender identity.

Junior Alic Hawkins has become more comfortable with a GSA on campus.
“I do feel more supported. I feel like I could come to someone who has similar problems sexuality wise,”  Hawkins said.

The GSA of Stockbridge would like to spread more awareness to non-LGBTQ+ members as well. “It’s a safe place for not only LGBTQ+ kids, but straight kids, too,” freshman Jaslyn Wilkins said. “It’s like they’ll be able to be more involved, and I guess, it will just be less awkward if more people know about it and it will reach a wider audience.”

Spreading more awareness isn’t a bad thing. The group wants more non-LGBTQ+ members to understand the struggles and fears LGBTQ+ kids have to overcome.

According to The Human Rights Campaign, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth said the community they’re growing up in doesn’t accept LGBTQ+ people.

Diffenbaugh agrees that the GSA of Stockbridge will make youth feel safer and more supported. “I’m pretty much surrounded by people who are pretty much just like me.”