Is WHS A Safe Space For LGBT+ Students?
February 26, 2020
Washington High School has many students that consider themselves to be part of the LGBT+ community. Recently, I have been wondering if these students feel that our school is a safe space for them to freely express their sexual and gender identities. As someone who is part of the community myself, I was very interested in this topic. I decided to interview fellow LGBT+ students to find out how they felt about the matter.
When asked if she felt the school was a safe space, Erin Fisher said, “I feel like the high school itself is a safe place, but some people can make it feel unsafe to express yourself. It’s all about who you surround yourself with.” Destiny Stackhouse agrees, stating, “I think the school is a safe place for LGBTQ students because it has so many people who understand what the community is all about.”
For every student that thinks WHS is a safe space, there is a student who disagrees. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, says, “Personally, I don’t think WHS is a safe space. Yeah, there are anti-bullying procedures and all that, but more often than not, when I’ve been targeted for my sexuality or how I present myself, teachers don’t seem to notice. And if they did, they didn’t do anything.” They continue to say, “The school policy on bullying, violence, and threats is ‘If you see something, say something’, but as LGBT+ people, we are still living under ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell policies’.” Another student, Emanual McElroy, is an ally of the community. “Guys are ruthless,” He says, ” I have close friends that are [LGBT+], so it doesn’t bother me, but they get bothered by people a lot.”
After hearing that some students didn’t feel the school was a safe space, I decided to ask them what they felt the school could do to make them feel more accepted. One student responded with, “We need a support system. Whether it’s in the form of a GSA or even just a way for us and our issues to be heard.” This student wasn’t the only person to bring up a desire for the school to have a GSA, so I decided to do some research on the topic.
GSA stands for Gay-Straight Alliance. These usually take the form of student-led and organized clubs that aim to create a safe space for all students. These clubs welcome all students with open arms, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. GSAs have shown to be beneficial for students in the LGBT+ community because it gives them a place where they are always accepted for who they are.
While many students feel that WHS is a safe space, the fact that multiple students feel unsafe expressing their sexual or gender identity means that this issue shouldn’t be overlooked. A good way to make these students feel safer is by creating a GSA in Washington High School. This is likely the most reasonable step to take, as GSAs are just like any other club and can be started just as easily. All students at WHS deserve to feel safe and accepted at school, and by starting a GSA we can give students the acceptance they deserve.
To see statistics about LBGT+ students or learn how to start a GSA, please click the links below: