By Charly SHELTON
The Glendale Unified School District and the Parent Teacher Student Association has established an LGBTQ task force to educate and protect students from bullying for their sexual orientation. In response, members of the Gay-Straight Alliance Club at Crescenta Valley High School and the Rainbow Gems Club at Rosemont Middle School came to the board of education meeting last week to show their support and tell the board about some of the club’s efforts to engender support in their schools.
“In January 2011, amid a barrage of tragic, senseless suicides of gay youth that gained publicity nationwide, a group of teachers on our campus at CV began to ask, ‘What is it like to be LGBTQ at Crescenta Valley High School?’” said Dr. David Platt, co-advisor of the GSA at CVHS.
This led to the formation of the LGBT Allies Group, a group of students and faculty who strive to change the stigma and negativity that some hold toward the LGBTQ community. The goal is to create a safe space for all students so as to not feel judged or threatened.
“[LGBTQ activist group] GLSEN’s 2013 national school climate survey found that eight out of 10 LGBT students report experiencing verbal harassment at schools because of their sexual orientation, six out of 10 because of their gender expression and nearly 30% report missing at least one day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety,” said Emily Sauer, president of GSA at CVHS.
To combat this, GSA has held annual school climate surveys and held training for staff members. They hang posters and “safe zone” stickers around campus and a play was produced by the drama department based on school climate survey results. An anti-harassment curriculum was designed for all health classes.
But one of the biggest, most noticeable events is Ally Week, the weeklong show of support for LGBTQ students and their allies throughout the school and community. This will be the second year that CVHS and RMS have held Ally Week.
“For those of you who are not a part of the LGBTQ community, being in the closet can at times feel as though you’re physically carrying around crushing weight. Lying to my parents and closest friends were some of the most painful things that I’ve had to endure thus far,” said Brendan Caver, student body vice president at CVHS. “This week is important because it is demonstrative of the support that our school can offer to all students. Queer students are an integral part of Crescenta Valley High School, last year comprising our ASB president, homecoming king and Falcon Award winner, which is the highest academic honor at CV. The impact of Ally Week has been unquestionably positive. Five of my closest friends have come out since our first Ally Week and I’d like to think that at least a few more people were more supportive to them than they would’ve been otherwise.”
Ally Week will be held from Oct. 17 to Oct. 21 at Crescenta Valley High and Rosemont Middle schools. The GSA and Rainbow Gems clubs, respectively, will sponsor the schools’ events, which include rainbow decals for the helmets of the football team and cheerleaders. An “I Am An Ally” banner will be hung in the quad for students and staff to sign and pledge their support of the LGBTQ community. The Chain of Kindness Day invites students to write a kind message of support on a slip of paper then link those message one-by-one as a paper chain to watch the kindness grow.
For more information on Ally Week and LGBTQ activism, visit GLSEN.org.