Gay Straight Alliance offers support to LGBTQ+ teens

Students take GSA survey in the cafeteria.

Karissa Murray

Students take GSA survey in the cafeteria.


Many people have been fighting for equality in this nation for a long time. Everyone wants to feel like they belong and fit in. Gloucester High School  supports equality with the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club.

Adjustment counselors Amy Kamm and Flo Johnson, and Nurse practitioner Linda Gipstein help facilitate the group which is open to anyone.  Kamm says that the mission of GSA is to have every GHS student feel safe and accepted.

“We want students to be able to talk about life experiences” said Gipstein.

GSA meets weekly in Kamm’s office during lunch blocks.  “These students brainstorm initiatives to make GHS a safe place for everyone” said Kamm.

At the recent meeting, students discussed problems that come up for LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, questioning and others) such as coming out to their parents.

GSA is not therapy, but a place where people can understand what each other is going through.

“It’s not necessarily for the emotionally unstable, it’s to try to help people who are unsure about their sexuality and want to feel accepted,” said GHS senior A.J. Celentano. “We look out for those people. You can make a little difference to change peoples ways. I feel like I’m making a difference a little bit at a time.”

“We hope the conversations started here will continue beyond this room,” said Johnson.

They also plan to organize a faculty training, facilitated by GSA students, to make teachers more aware of offensive language or acts in and around the classroom and how to effectively intervene.

According to members, many times students will say “that’s so gay” and the teachers just ignore it. The members of GSA feel that this is unfair and creates an unsafe learning environment.

At a recent meeting, the topic was different stereotypes built up between men and women.

One GSA member referred to her psychology book by saying “Men are more aggressive and women are more submissive.”  She said that she believes that people who think this are only thinking of physical aggression and don’t take into account of the mental aggression women can inflict such as rumors, saying mean things, cyberbullying, etc.

It’s important that  students, staff and parents know and support the struggles of LGBTQ+ people

Those who spend time on the Internet may know the story of Leelah Alcorn – a transgender male to female. Leelah was born as Josh, but knew she was not who she wanted to be. Leelah had very religious and non-supportive parents.  Even after her death, Leelah’s parents referred to her with the wrong pronouns saying “He was a good boy”.

Leelah posted a suicide letter on tumblr,  and later that night walked in front of a truck killing herself. Leelah’s mother deleted her tumblr,  and claimed that Leelah was going for a walk and was tragically hit.

Some wonder, would Leelah still be alive today, if her parents had been more supportive?

GSA hopes students will learn from these tragic stories, and not let something like this happened to any beloved member of their community.

For more information about GSA, see Ms. Kamm.