Trevor Andrews, Reporter
Students that might feel like they don’t belong or believe others might not accept them have another place to fit in with the LGBTSA Club.
According to the club’s sponsor, Aly Alexander, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Straight Alliance works hard to support students with a goal of providing a safe place for these students.
There are approximately 50 members in the club.
Alexander, who also serves the district as a social worker, said there have been times when students have felt they don’t receive the support they need.
“Our school has not been the most supportive all the time of our LGBT students,” she said.
Like many other communities in the nation, many people are unaware of what the club is or the issues faced by its members, added Alexander.
“When we have trans students who are younger, it’s harder for adults to understand how to support them. Sometimes adults immediately think they’re too young to think that way, or they just don’t know it yet, but that’s not true at all.”
Alexander said that more people need to learn about how to support our trans students in the community.
“We are also thinking about how we can move into the future and our adult life. I want students to be able to make the best decisions possible,” she said.
She said that the club wants to help the entire LGBT community in Grand Island, including students and that the club has continued to create awareness, educate people, and support LGBT community members.
Club members have made at least two public presentations on definitions and statistics, Alexander said, with a heavy focus on bullying, mental health, and suicide rates.
“In the same presentations, we talked about what the audience could do to support their LGBT students and/or staff in both the school and workplace,” she said.
The first presentation was for a Leadership Tomorrow class that consisted of adults from varying businesses and organizations in the community.
“The second one was to Wasmer Elementary staff. We provided a handful of resources to both groups, tailored to whether they were supporting students or staff,” said Alexander.
She added that almost immediately after the Wasmer presentation, the social worker informed her that a member of the custodial staff had displayed a safe space decal that had been provided by the club.
In addition to that, Alexander said a teacher at Wasmer contacted them requesting additional information.
Alexander said to prepare the presentations, ideas and input came from the club members.
“Our student presenters were very thorough and professional in their presentations to both groups. They were also vulnerable in expressing their own personal experiences. I, personally, was overwhelmingly proud of them.”
She said they are also working on changing policy within the school district.
“One thing we want to tackle is (the school) policy on utilizing new names and pronouns. We want there to be some kind of policy across the board that teachers and staff respect what the student is wanting to be called or referred to as,” Alexander said.
She added that they have a policy right now that allows students to change their name and gender in the school’s record system, but it involves parent permission.
In recent years, people have become more accepting of LGBTBQ members, Alexander added and that the club’s primary focus is to make students feel loved and accepted.
Jasmine Mosely, a junior, said the club has helped her find people who are similar to her.
“I didn’t know there was that many gay people in high school,” she said.
She said the club has also given her the courage to come out to her parents.
Laila McComb, a junior, said, “I may not be able to change the world, but to the people in this club, I matter, and I make a difference.”
She said, the club is a safe place for everybody, and it’s also a great way to make a difference.
While discrimination is a major problem in many schools across the state and nation, McComb said that Senior High has also created policies to combat them including the school’s policy on changing names, which McComb said is a great step forward.
She said that it’s great to have many teachers who are supportive of the LGBT community, such as Assistant Principals Maggie Mintken and Calvin Hubbard.
Senior High Principal Jeff Gilbertson said he is proud of the work done by the club.
“We are so proud and grateful for the LGBTSA Club and their accomplishments this year,” he said. “They have certainly done an excellent job positively serving the school with awareness, and collaboration, around their mission of promoting acceptance, unity, love, and appreciation for all students and staff. We are looking forward to the future.”