Written by: Naoreen Kabir – Grade 11
Pearson’s Gay Straight Alliance is one of the coolest clubs at our school, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in it. Last school year, we held the Silence Alliance week. The cafeteria walls were covered in colourful hearts in a show of support for the LBGTQ+ community. Last semester, we organized Ally week and collected signatures from students on a giant banner to demonstrate that we are allies to the community.
With these two events, you may think that our GSA is already filled with enough members to run a country. The truth is, we’re always looking for new people to join!
The club meets every Tuesday and Thursday in room 2136, which is right by the boy’s washroom upstairs. Generally, on Tuesdays we work on the events we’re planning, and on Thursdays we just chill and hang out.
Here are five reasons GSA is worth checking out:
1. We love everyone.
We wouldn’t be a GSA is we didn’t love everyone, so we love you too, dear reader. We might even love you more than Kanye loves Kanye.
Joking aside, the students and teachers in GSA are truly kind and accepting. I was an awkward turtle when I first joined in grade ten, but GSA welcomed my socially incapable soul with open arms. (Literally. There was this one guy that hugged me all the time. He graduated, but if you still want a hug I’ll gladly take his place for you.)
2. GSA meetings are fun.
The members are a unique bunch, to say the least, which makes for some hilarious interactions. As previously mentioned, we do work on Tuesdays and just hang out on Thursdays, so it’s not a club that feels like a chore. The balance of taking action for the cause and just relaxing and joking around makes it a great group to be in.
3. It’s never too late to join.
If the GSA was a country, we’d be Canada. Not only do we celebrate the diversity of individuals, we’re always looking for new people to join and contribute to the club. You can join any time, so if you’re busy next week then come by the week after. I promise no one will get mad!
4. Our teacher supervisors are cool beans.
The club is managed by Ms.Barabanoff and Mr.Kiziak, and they’re super cool. They’re so cool that I can’t even find words to describe how cool they are, so you’ll just have to come to our meetings and see for yourself.
5. When it comes to LBGTQ+ issues, there is still work to be done.
The world has come a long way in providing rights and acceptance toward those who break age-old norms of sexuality and gender. We’re especially lucky to live in Canada where same-sex couples can get married and transgender individuals have more options. However, there are still significant problems being faced by members of the community, even in our own country.
There are still too many queer youth who are harassed at school, are rejected by their own family, and have no place to turn for support. LGB youth are 14 times more at risk of committing suicide than their heterosexual peers. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation more than doubled in Canada between 2007 and 2008. An Ontario study found that 20% of transgender individuals experienced sexual or physical assault due to being trans, and 34% faced verbal threats and harassment. (Source)
I could list off dozens of statistics, but the people affected here aren’t numbers. They’re people. They’re the boy who hears someone complaining, “That’s so gay” and immediately feels disgusted with himself. They’re the girl who comes out as bi and gets called an attention whore. They’re the trans student who takes their own life because not a single person will accept that their identity even exists.
We have the power to educate our peers and clear up the pervasive misconceptions surrounding LGBTQ+ individuals. We have the power to create a safe space for every student in our school. We have the power to fuel the perhaps uncomfortable, but necessary discussions about this topic that will impact the generations after ours.
At the moment, GSA has yet to plan our activities and events for this semester. Do you have ideas for ways we can educate and celebrate about LGBTQ+ in Pearson? Do you want to help make posters? Whether you’re able to commit your time, your creativity, or your ideas, our GSA needs your support. Not just for the sake of every youth in the school now, but for every youth that will inhabit our school for the years to come.