GSA unites students, builds strong community


Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Students in GSA across the country wrote all the terminology they could think of when referring to GSA.

The Gender-Sexuality Alliance club, also known as the GSA, creates a supportive atmosphere for LGBTQ+ students through educational activities while recruiting new members by spreading the word online due to distance learning. The GSA’s purpose is to create a safe space for students to talk about their life as a queer student or an ally.

The GSA recruits new members by having their current members speak to other students and promote the GSA on their social media platforms. The GSA doesn’t have any requirements on who can join. It is open to everyone. “Join! Queer or not, we’re a great group of people, and I think you’d love us,” junior and GSA member Alex Mockensturm said.

Due to the new online setting, the GSA has not talked about holding events or fundraisers yet, as they have previously. The fundraisers and events they used to operate were bake sales and volunteering, including attending the pride parade. But since they are not planning, they focus on getting to know each other as new members have joined. The current online setting Zoom has made it harder to create their old in-person environment, but they have found new ways to make up for it. “Zoom has helped them connect in different ways than before, showing artwork, talking about positives and comfort zones,” adviser and English teacher Annette Evans said.

Since their usual activities are difficult to do over Zoom, they talk about LGBTQ+ education and history since October is LGBTQ+ history month.

MCPS has been developing a course based on LGBTQ+ history and education to be made into an elective. But even before that, members talked about their experiences at school as they have trouble with the lack of visibility and awareness they receive in their daily education. “Our fundraisers go ignored, students at Wootton are still prejudiced, and it feels like, for a lot of queer students at least, that administration is supportive at the bare minimum,” Mockensturm said.

It has lots of benefits, and it creates a safe place during this time with Covid.

— Annette Evans

In addition to what LGBTQ+ students face, GSA members have said they want to see improvements in the schools’ response to the queer community. The GSA is sending the message to students to join to make a significant impact on the school system.
During this pandemic, members have been finding ways to reach out to others involved in the LGBTQ+ community since political issues have been brought up regarding gay marriage. “It has lots of benefits, and it creates a safe place during this time with Covid,” Evans said.

Regardless of the new online setting with distance learning, on Thursdays the GSA members hold meetings on Zoom, letting them speak amongst each other. They have said what they talk about is not always queer-related but also personal and general. Even though the club focuses on education and history, they also focus on mental health, allowing them to express personal issues. “It has allowed me to find some friends, and it has given me a community,” new member Jax Felman said.