As both a Gay-Straight Alliance Sponsor for McKinley Tech High School in Washington, D.C., and an LGBT Liaison for my school district, I have learned -- and am excited to share -- a number of tips that can help Gay-Straight Alliances make schools safer and more supportive for all students.
When black people are homophobic, they are doing the oppressor's work for them, and when white queers erase the experiences and efforts of black transgender women and LGBTQ youth of color, they are doing the oppressor's work for them.
GSA is about having fun, getting to know each other, being supportive, and learning how to make our community stronger. Even when I felt public school wasn't a safe place for me, I could go to GSA meetings and feel like a normal student.
State laws, codes of conduct and school board policies are great first steps in the process of safeguarding and bringing equality to LGBT students. However, they are not enough. School superintendents and principals must do their part by creating inclusive school environments.
I look forward to when my students ask me about my sexuality in response to my involvement with our GSA, or because I often discuss gay and lesbian issues, because it allows me the opportunity to discuss the need to support all civil rights issues.
Gay-straight alliances enhance academic environments by decreasing bullying, increasing academic achievement and promoting social justice and respect for others. Students who participate in GSAs are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to enroll in college.
I graduated with my B.A. degree on June 13, 1969 -- 15 days before the momentous Stonewall rebellion. As a graduating senior the concept of an "out" person, let alone an organized, above-ground student organization, was not even in my range of possibilities.
My heart goes out to these gay students, because in spite of all the strides the gay community has made in recent decades, these kids are still struggling. I admire these students, who can be so out and so strong, but I do not envy the turbulent and aggressive atmosphere that they live in.
GSAs offer so much more than just a place for LGBT students to belong. GSAs also offer a place where straight students can come to learn about LGBT issues. If a student is questioning their sexual orientation, a GSA is a great place to find resources that can help them in the process.
Today, on National Gay-Straight Alliance Day, I am ready to celebrate! But first I must confess: I wish I didn't have to hear about another school district denying students their right to form the clubs that provide so much support and are protected by law.