Alliance provides a safe haven for the LGBTQ community at CHS

Alliance+provides+a+safe+haven+for+the+LGBTQ+community+at+CHS

Graphic by Adriana Poznanski

Zaina Saif

The Gay-Straight Alliance or Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) is a student-led organization found in high schools that intends to provide a supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth as well as their cisgender, heterosexual allies. 

At CHS, GSA is a student-run club that provides students with a safe place to meet, work to end homophobia and transphobia and talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity. The CHS alliance was founded last year to bring together allies and members of the LGBT+ community. An ally is a heterosexual person who supports equal rights for gay people and challenges homophobia. The meaning later expanded to include rights for all LGBT+ individuals, orientations and gender identities. 

Forty out of 50 states across the country have reported having alliance programs in their high schools. Results from 15 studies done across schools in the United States show that GSAs have positive academic, health and social impacts on students of a minority sexual orientation or gender identity. Students in schools with GSAs report feeling safer, hearing fewer homophobic remarks and experiencing less homophobic victimization. 

The alliance is a fairly new addition to CHS, but the council hopes to make a lasting impact on the CHS community and everyone involved with it. 

“Last year we were able to spread a lot of information and awareness about the LGBT+ community,” the CHS alliance club advisor Laura Gesin said.

Senior Aidan Rosenberg of Freehold, a member of the alliance council, described the various types of presentations and guided discussions the club has had at meetings. 

“In the past we’ve done presentations on Stonewall, which is a major event in LGBTQ history, and the history of Pride flags,” Rosenberg said. 

The club also holds monthly check-ins with all the members where everyone can talk to each other in a safe environment. “I think this really helps to promote good mental health within all our peers,” Rosenberg said. 

“Our club has a very stress free vibe to it and it feels good to see that there are other people in my school that are similar minded,” said senior Roxie Palladino of Marlboro. Other people in the club explained that, even though they are not part of the community, they are proud to be allies and enjoy meeting people with other views. Senior Jenna Wynd of Manasquan, an ally, explained that she loves hearing about other people’s experiences as an LGBTQ community member. 

On the contrary, sophomore Max Ayers of Allenhurst believes the GSA could use some improvement. “I don’t really love how [the club] is run. It’s more of a place where people sit in silence,” Ayers said. “I actually find it easier to sit with a bunch of people from the community during lunch and talk.”

At CHS, the members of the alliance stress how important it is to know how to treat a member of the LGBT community. Wynd mentioned that having a positive attitude towards LGBT individuals is a crucial trait to have, especially when approaching life after high school. A new study from the Family Acceptance Project published in the current issue of Applied Developmental Science details that college students who reported having a GSA in their high school were more likely to report positive attitudes towards LGBT individuals while attending their university. 

“I hope that the members of the alliance at CHS will take away from their experiences in the club as they continue through life,” Gesin said.