5th annual GSA forum hosted at Monte Vista

Kevin Yang, News Editor

The 5th Annual Gay Straight Alliance Forum was held on February 24 in Monte Vista’s Workday Student Center. Members of GSA clubs from each of the four high schools and several middle schools in the SRVUSD attended with the broad goals of increasing LGBTQ awareness in the SRVUSD and increasing the sense of community among GSA members across schools.

The Student Center library was packed with students, faculty and community members from the SRVUSD. The fully catered event involved multiple speakers from schools and the greater community, all buzzing with enthusiasm and excitement about the GSA and their objective of creating a safe and supportive environment for LGBTQ youth and their straight allies.

The forum consisted mostly of students and school faculty involved in GSA clubs. All the attendees gathered in a massive circle on the floor of the floor library. Multiple students and faculty from each of the schools took turns giving speeches in the middle of the circle about their experiences relevant to the LGBTQ experience.

Officers from GSA clubs of each of the high schools hosted games designed to to facilitate discussion about topics such as stereotypes associated with LGBTQ individuals and discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

While some of the games such as charades were purely for laughs, other games were games touched on serious issues. Dougherty Valley GSA president Kyle Doan and his team of GSA officers hosted a game that involved students breaking into smaller groups to write down stereotypes about particular groups of people. While some found the game uncomfortable, Doan said that the game was successful at opening necessary discussion about student experiences and discrimination.

“The purpose of was to shine light on the light that people experience from day to day,” Doan said.

Members from community organizations involved with LGBTQ affairs also made appearances and voiced their support for LGBTQ awareness promoted on the middle school and high school level by GSA. Representatives from PFLAG San Ramon, Interfaith Contra Costa and Rainbow Community Center were among the organizations that spoke at the forum.

The main organizers of the forum from Monte Vista were English teacher Heather Slipka and art teacher Jennie Drummond. Slika hopes that the high attendance of the GSA forum this year will allow LGBTQ youth in the SRVUSD to feel that they have a medium through which they can express their communicate their experiences.

“Hopefully, [the GSA forum] will allow students to meet other students in the community who are like minded or have the same sexual orientation,” Slipka said. “Students will have the opportunity to discover that there are students at other schools like them.”

Notable Monte Vista faculty that attended the forum were Principal Dr. Kevin Ahern, Assistant Principal Ballou, and Monte Vista teachers Kathleen Krier and Kimberly Gillis.

The high attendance of this year’s GSA forum by individuals of all backgrounds and age groups demonstrates the growing awareness of the LGBTQ experience and support for the GSA and its mission.

“[The GSA forum] is an event that is inclusive for everybody,” Doan said. “We are speaking up for those who cannot.”