GSA presentation to the staff

Olivia Rekittke, features writer

GSA presentation preview

GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) is about to make KHS history. GSA will give a presentation to the KHS staff Nov. 3 in regards to teacher awareness of gay shaming in classrooms. The goal for the presentation is not only to educate teachers about these occurrences, but also to allow them to put the ideas of the presentation to action. Mary Wilson, junior and secretary of the club, said this year is going to be significantly more active and better planned, and she is looking forward to presenting.

“[The main idea is to] educate the staff and say, ‘listen, this is a real issue,’” Wilson said. “A lot of times I think teachers don’t know what to do when LGBTQ issues come up in the classroom.”

The latest draft of the presentation will start off with an interactive activity, followed by a Prezi of different statistics and percentages having to do with LGBTQ students, and ending with all of the members sharing a story from middle school or high school in regards to gay shaming or witnessing gay shaming in the classroom. In addition to Wilson’s feelings of this year versus last year in terms of getting things done, Marie Chappell, sophomore, said there is quite a difference.

“[GSA] decided to actually do stuff this year, [and is] doing more things that will actually affect people,” Chappell said. “We’re actually trying to make everything better.”

Though the club is mostly student-run, Sharon Taysi, chemistry teacher, is the teacher sponsor who provides the room and the permission to have the club. This year her outstanding group of officers and other outside help will hopefully create a more proactive year for GSA, she said.

“I am hoping the teachers take something from the presentation,” Taysi said. “I think [that] because the message is coming from students who naturally teachers care about, they will take the message seriously and it will result in a better atmosphere for LGBTQ kids.”

Taysi believes the club allows students to experience leadership and cooperation which will help them in the long run. She enjoys GSA in the sense of getting to see kids outside of class that she normally would not see or get to know.

“I will do anything to help make the school a better place for LGBTQ kids and faculty,” Taysi said. “I think we focus [a lot] on students, but if there are 1 in 10 [LGBTQ] people, which is the statistic often cited, then we have a significant population in our faculty and staff. We need to make everyone feel welcome.”


GSA presentation opinion

In sixth grade I entered my math classroom only to be approached by two girls claiming they heard I didn’t wash my hair. At this time I hadn’t experienced or witnessed bullying in a severe form, but there were always rumors. Sadly a lot of girls experience the same subtle, yet powerful comments every day. In eighth grade gym class we were each given a piece of paper showing a sketch of a map resembling the inside of Nipher Middle School. My teacher, Ms. Hadler, instructed us to mark any place in the school where we had witnessed bullying. The marks ranged from the locker room, the hallways and even classrooms.

In my case, I had a positive experience with a teacher willing to address the clear wrongness of the happenings in school. Unfortunately, others describe teachers’ willingness to improve negative encounters among students as slim.

Over a month ago, I was at the activities fair, completely unaware that I was about to dive headfirst into a whole new world. As I walked around, I found myself drawn to the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) table. I immediately signed up and started counting down the days until the first meeting. I decided early on to not pursue a position like president or an officer because my main goal was to observe and listen to what I had been oblivious to in middle school: other people’s stories and experiences. In the third meeting I attended, we had counselors from the middle schools come in and we led a discussion covering the topics of bullying, gay shaming and basically the general happenings in middle school that could potentially be improved and how. In the middle of the meeting, one of the counselors suggested we as a group should present our thoughts and experiences to the KHS staff.

The next meeting, we started to brainstorm what we would say and how we would say it. We discussed the topics we would cover, and we decided the overall one would be teacher awareness. We then wanted to have a section where each of us would share a positive or negative experience we had with a teacher reacting (or not) to a bully-type situation. I started to hear stories I could barely imagine happening. Tears formed in my eyes as I listened in disbelief. How could such horrible things happen to such good people?

According to the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, in 1997, 87 percent of students felt safe in school, but then in 1999, only 75 percent of students felt safe at school. This inspired me and the rest of the club to better educate unknowing teachers of the horror helpless kids go through who receive no help even if they are in a teacher’s classroom. Nov. 3, the GSA club will present about teacher awareness to the KHS staff, and to be honest, I believe the majority of them will be shocked by the stories they hear. The goal for this meeting, though, is to inform the teachers how to be actively responsive to the wrongfulness. It is our turn to teach them a little something, and hopefully they will do their homework.