By Lisi Burciaga and Karen Rosenberg, Staff Writers
// Schools attempts to engage all students in activities that satisfy their interests and personalities, particularly through the variety of clubs available to students. While some gravitate towards the Business Club, community service clubs, and Science Bowl, others find themselves participating in the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA).
“QSA is a safe place where anyone can come to learn about the LGBTQ community and explore current events and news that involve the topic,” sophomore Clara Finch said.
An Acalanes QSA tradition has been to take initiative and inform freshmen, specifically, about the topic. Similar to past years, representatives from QSA visited freshman English classes to teach about the queer community on January 26 and 27.
“I think it’s important to get the message out to everyone, but freshmen specifically are navigating a new stage of their lives. There are a lot of changes that come with the transition to high school, and for a lot of people that involves gender and sexuality,” junior and QSA President Kate Gilberd said.
For many younger teens, the topic goes undiscussed throughout the entirety of their primary through middle school careers.
“It’s a topic that really isn’t talked about much in middle school, so it’s important that everyone gets information that’s accurate and presented in a way that they can understand,” Gilberd said.
The club’s annual classroom visits provide the underclassmen with an accurate representation of the LGBTQ community, and clarify the various stereotypes surrounding it.
By having actual QSA members do the teaching, students tend to feel safer and more light hearted than when talking to a teacher about such sensitive topics.
“This is something that QSA has been doing for a long time, years before I got to Acalanes,” Gilberd said. “I think it’s really important, for teens growing up especially, to learn about the queer community, and to hear it from a peer makes it a lot more personal and more lighthearted.”
During the meetings, students learned about the meanings behind being bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, asexual, aromantic, pansexual, and many more branches of the LGBTQ community, which kids are not as commonly educated on.
¨I didn’t know a lot of the stuff. I thought I did but there was a lot more to it,” freshman Olivia Morgan said.
The visit also included an exercise in which students were encouraged to share their sexual orientation and gender preference with the class, if they felt comfortable.
“Hopefully kids will be more accepting of their fellow classmates who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella and perhaps understand them more,” Finch said.
The sessions tended to receive overall positive feedback and engagement from students at the beginning of their high school career, who may often have a lack of LGBTQ community knowledge.
¨I think it was really informative and everyone felt safe and that they could share what they thought,” Morgan said.
With such a rapidly growing societal presence, comes the demand for education on the topic in the lives of young adolescents, as well as generations which may have missed out on LGBTQ education in the past, according to Gilberd.
¨It’s important to teach both students and teachers because negative stereotypes and miscommunications are common about the community, and people should be aware that these people do exist and are different than them, but are still human beings that deserve to be treated just as equally as anyone else,” Finch said.