Ludlow’s GSA Club raises awareness about LGBT

Audrey Pilon, Staff Writer

October was national LGBT History Month, also known as “coming out month.” LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Some use a twist on the words and call it “Outober.” Ludlow High School joined the movement towards LGBT acceptance by forming its own Gay Straight Alliance Club (GSA.)

The month-long celebration originated in the United States. It was founded by a Missouri high-school teacher in 1994.
October was chosen for this celebration because National Coming Out Day was already a widely known event on Oct. 11. Also, the first march on Washington for lesbian, gay, and bisexual equal rights and liberation happened in October, 1979.

LGBT History Month is intended to encourage honesty, openness, and acceptance about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. October is also an opportunity to celebrate the contributions LGBT people have made to world history. For example, The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was the first lesbian organization in the U.S. It began in San Francisco in 1955 with lesbian couples trying to create social alternatives to lesbian bars, which were illegal at the time.

The DOB shifted their focus to supporting women who were afraid to come out by educating them on their rights. Chapters of the DOB spread to New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Rhode Island. They became a source of education for gay men, lesbians, researchers, and mental health professionals.

Ludlow’s GSA has also taken a part in National Coming Out Month.

Maybe you’ve seen the big black banner at the top of the ramp near the main office. It says “October is National Coming Out Month,” and it has sexual prejudice slurs around the edges. The GSA put that banner up.

The banner was made by the students here at LHS, and it says “Why are we still dealing with…” and then lists some of the judgements that kids face with coming out. “It’s just a phase” and “That’s so gay” are just a few of the things put up on the banner.

GSA is run by two teachers from LHS, Carie Maguire and Meredith Smith. Maguire saw a need for this club to raise awareness around the school, provide support, educate, and empower students to fight homophobia and transphobia.

“It’s so important for LGBT students to have straight allies, friends, and teachers who are vocal about supporting the fundamental rights for all students to feel accepted,” says Maguire.

This club is for everyone: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight. Maguire and Smith want to stress that anyone is welcome, regardless of sexuality.

GSA is a place where students can let loose and be themselves, without fear of being judged. They can socialize about anything from how their day went, to issues on sexuality.

“I feel like I can be myself at GSA,” says senior Toriann Portier. “It’s a relief to just sit down with the group and talk freely, and not feel judged.”
Senior Alex Gaughan is also a member of GSA, and is excited to be a part of this movement.

“I’m not afraid to say anything at GSA.” says Gaughan. “It just makes me feel 100% accepted and it’s all I look forward to every week.”
Maguire and Smith would like the group to be involved in more community events. Last year GSA attended Northampton’s Gay Pride, and they are planning to attend again in May of 2013.

Both would like to look into a teacher training program that helps teachers properly handle a subject as sensitive as a student’s sexuality. GSA would also like to connect with similar clubs in our area. Their main goal is to try and create a safe, judgement-free school environment for Ludlow’s LGBT students.

“We want the LGBT students at Ludlow High School to feel more than just ‘accepted’ or ‘tolerated’,” says Maguire. “We want to help create a culture that normalizes peoples’ differences and celebrates diversity. It takes so much bravery to be different and to be true to oneself, and these kids deserve it.”

GSA’s weekly Wednesday meetings in D002 tries to provide a safe haven for its members. You don’t have to be gay to want to make a difference in making Ludlow a safe space for everyone. GSA is always open to new members, gay or straight, everyone is welcome.