Welcoming GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) into Newfound School District started with a small group of high schoolers spring of 2017. The students came up with a proposal and brought it to Ms. Jackson, but had a hard time getting this program off the ground last year. It seems the program is bringing a boom this 2017-2018 school year, however.
The United Alliance is a group that welcomes all forms of sexual pride, from straight, to gay, to bisexual, to transgender. Sophomore Alexis says, “We try to welcome people with our name. We actually renamed this Club the Stonewall Alliance to show a historical meaning from the Stonewall Riots.” This alliance stands for the right of equality between all sexual interest. This program may have been miscommunicated in some ways. This group of people is standing for their rights; they are not trying to get anyone to agree with the choices they have made but just to accept people for who they are. This program is not only open to gays, transgenders or bisexual students, you can be of any sex or gender and be part of this club.
Newfound has had a club like this before, but they were not nearly as open with the club itself. This club began about 5-7 years ago when gay was not tolerated nearly as well as it is today. It started with a small group of students who needed more acceptance; this group met quietly after school once a week, and nothing really came of it. There were no field trips, no posters in the school welcoming other students. It was simply a group who just needed some support. Ms. Jackson adds, “As the students began to come out and realized that being gay was accepted, the group began [seeing] less and less students. The next year the group never picked back up.”
The United Alliance is very different from this in many ways. This group of students is trying to build a larger program. The GLSEN community is welcoming in many ways. Alexis says, “Everyone is like stonewall lines; we are there to create a safe place for anyone. Therefore if someone does not feel safe we try to change that.” So far, the group has put up posters in NRHS hallways and is planning on going on a field trip to a gay pride march in Concord. The GLSEN community also is looking to expand and hope to gain more supporters.
Alexis Payne, the president of the United Alliance Club, got the idea to have this club. The idea came up because her last school, Concord High, had a United Alliance Club. She says, “I believe that every school should have a GSA ( Gay, Straight Alliance) because it is important for everyone to feel equal.”
Equality is emphasised in this club because gays are often not treated with equally. They are looked down on by their peers. This group would like to change that. The United Alliance meets every Monday after school and would love to have some new faces. When joining this club, some might notice that the first question they ask you is, “What is your pronoun?” This really means, What do you identify as? This might be an odd question in some people’s opinions, but it is an honest and courteous question. Alexis adds, “In the Club, there aren’t usually reactions because everyone knows what the question means, but if I just went around the hall asking, What is your pronoun? some people get confused. Therefore I have to explain what my question means.”
The United Alliance has been welcomed to the district with support and empathy, and is looking forward to the changes they plan on bringing to this school and to the community, and to hopefully help each student realize that, like Ms. Jackson’s quote of the day, “There is just one life for each of us: our own” (Euripedes).