Finding Strength: GSA President Stresses Alliance
GSA stands for Gay Straight Alliance, not “the gay club.” This is the message that president Alye Pollack ‘15 wants to make known throughout school. Pollack wants to build on the alliance, a word recently used in Obama’s speech endorsing gay marriage.
Building this alliance is no small task. Yet Pollack is committed to taking it on as a freshman president, something very unusual at Staples. Despite only being in her first year of high school, Pollack has received national attention from her video on bullying, “Words DO Hurt,” posted on YouTube.
“I was bullied throughout middle school for being gay, and there weren’t any support groups, so I was happy when I asked who the GSA adviser was and found that it was Mr. Fray” Pollack said.
In March, members of the club attended the True Colors Conference, inStorrs,CT., an event that emphasizes the important of alliance. There, LGBT kids attend workshops on different aspects of social justice and to meet students from other chapters of GSA. The Staples chapter shared a bus to the conference with Bassick’s chapter.
“It was the best day of my life. It was nice to feel like I could just be myself and not be judged,” Pollack said. “I just felt really safe.”
Many misconceptions exist about the club. As Pollack said, some think that it’s only for gay kids. Principal John Dodig said that he has heard some people say that it is a club that is used to recruit kids to become gay. Chris Fray, club advisor, said that some people believe GSA to be a dating service where sex is discussed the entire time.
“Kids I know have said that GSA is like the Yu-Gi-Oh! Club and only for freaks and weird people. It’s my way of bringing a part of my life into school, so it’s very important to me,” said Arianne Goodell ’15.
Since some believe that the club is solely for gay students, many would be surprised to hear that the majority of the club members are heterosexual and join to show their alliance. A week in October is set aside for this- Ally Week- where non-LGBT students sign up to be allies and show their support.
“I’m very proud of the heterosexual kids in GSA because it really takes courage to do that. Most assume that they must be gay to join, and for some people that is truly devastating,” Dodig said. “Staples hasn’t evolved to the point where same sex couples can walk each other to class and kiss goodbye, but I’m satisfied that we don’t have harassment against gay kids.”
Staples was the first public school inConnecticutto allow a chapter of GSA to be established. Created in 1993 by Dan Woog, varsity soccer coach, the club continues to grow and network in order to strengthen the fight for their cause.