Despite the fact that having a Gay Straight Alliance or GSA causes a noticeable decrease in bullying for both LGBT and straight students, schools are often resistant to starting one. But one middle school girl in Oscala Florida, is taking her school to task for it: Hannah Faughnan has been trying to start a GSA since 2013 and recently testified about the issue in federal court. And her testimony is pretty great. So what were you doing in middle school?
Faughnan first tried to get her school to sign off on an official GSA in fall of the 2013-2014 school year; however, administrators refused to approve the club due to a newly revised club policy. The ACLU contends that this new policy, which is ostensibly meant to streamline the approval process and limit the number of clubs not tied to the school's curriculum, is actually part of an effort by school officials to intentionally keep LGBT-friendly groups like a GSA from forming. At least, that's part of the argument they're making in District Court in their suit against the school.
As part of the suit, Faughnan testified about her efforts to start a GSA, which she points out can help bullied teens. "Bullying is a very, very difficult problem, and it's a problem for everyone," she said. "It's kind of like snowflakes — no one case is like the other, and the GSA finds ways to solve these issues."
Which is not only a good approach, but a fantastic metaphor. Especially since, you know, if there's enough bullying going on you can wind up buried in it.
Oh, and did I mention that Faughnan testified while in a rainbow colored bow tie? I officially love this girl.
Despite the fact that many political aspects of the LGBT movement, such as marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws, have made terrific progress in recent years, all too often LGBT youths find themselves victims of bullying and intolerance. And as we've already seen this year, these things can have tragic consequences. This is why it's so important for kids to have safe spaces where they can talk about their troubles and get support. Ideally, that safe space would be the whole world — but until we get to that point, it's not that unreasonable to ask for a school club at minimum. In fact, it kind of boggles my brain that people have to fight this hard for something so comparatively small. I mean, a GSA can have a huge impact on a school, yes, but it's not like they suck up a lot of resources.
Hopefully, the ACLU's case will win out and Faughnan will be successful in her quest to start a GSA at Carver Middle School. Because GSA really seems like the least any school can do for its LGBT students.