Gender Sexuality Alliance Club provides safe space for LGBTQ+

Formerly known as Gunn’s Gay Straight Alliance, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club aims to raise awareness about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Asexual/Aromantic, Allies and Advocates (LGBTQA+) community at Gunn and provide support for Gunn’s queer students.

Across the nation, GSA clubs at high schools aim to celebrate gender and sexuality diversity. Gunn’s GSA club has had a historical impact on the community, most notably in the Westboro Baptist Church picketing of 2010. Upon the arrival of the Westboro Baptist Church at Gunn, the GSA was one of the forerunners in organizing peaceful resistance against the picketers.

Today, the club is still making strong impact. “We try to create a safe space where we can talk about gender and sexuality issues,” Co-President senior Rachel Gates said. At meetings, club members often participate in discussions and forums about different issues facing the LBGTQA+ community both at Gunn and across the nation. “We talk about a lot of different issues that we think are important—for example, we’ve had talks about representation of queer people in media,” Gates said. “It really depends on what the club members want to be working on.” At club meetings, the club co-presidents will also occasionally invite guest speakers to present and discuss along with club members.

Outside of club meetings, GSA also hosts other club events. “We have a movie night at least once a year,” Gates said. “That’s always fun.” GSA is also the driving force behind the annual Day of Silence, which respectfully honors the plight of the LGBTQA+ community in their social and civil oppression by encouraging students to refrain from speaking for one day. This year, Gunn’s Day of Silence takes place on April 15.

One of the main problems Gunn’s GSA club faces is lack of strong membership. According to Gates, the small size of the club makes it hard for other students to find out about the club’s purpose and reach out. She hopes that GSA’s presence on campus will grow stronger and more interactive in future years in order to continue to educate the community. “At Gunn we try to be as inclusive as we can, but I think a lot of people are still not really aware of the issues about gender and sexuality,” she said. “For example, with gender, we’re still not really talking about it. There’s always progress to be made.”

Club members are similarly passionate about raising awareness. “The challenge is convincing people why we should have a club talking about gender and sexuality and convincing them why it’s important,” junior Annabel Marks said.

Club member senior Gopika Prabhu agrees. “A lot of people thing GSA is just ‘gay club’ but it’s really a lot more than that,” she said. “Just because Gunn doesn’t struggle with homophobia, it doesn’t mean that it is an all-accepting atmosphere.”

Nevertheless, GSA has still helped make progress about LGBTQA+ mentality at Gunn. “It’s helped educate people about how transgender people are just like normal people—something a lot of people aren’t educated about, even in Palo Alto,” Marks said.

Check out GSA and Gunn singing Westboro Baptist Church’s hate away: