How effective are Straight-Gay Alliances in HS?

For awhile now, I have been wanting to start a SGA at our school, but I have reservations concerning its effectiveness.

Even though I live in a relatively 21st century city for the South, the majority of students at my HS are openly hostile and bitter towards homosexuality. From people who think all gays wear skirts (well, guy gays to these students, since girls are “hot gays” or something) to the ones who think its the gays own fault for being gay, I think some sort of awareness is needed. When also considering the kids who might be gay but who are also absolutely terrified of being outted, I want to somehow do something to get people to be more tolerant of each other.

Anyway, in your exerience do they actually do anything? I just feel like a SGA would become a giant horrible black hole - some teachers have expressed feelings of wanting to leave if one ever existed - but it feels so appropriate.
Well?

(BTW, I’m straight FWIW.)

I’ve been meaning to start one. I’d like to know as well.

I found it hard enough to get the one in college to anything useful. I spent most of my time arguing with the other officers about how being “part of the culture” meant that we HAD to be different. Arg, I thought we were trying for acceptance and equality, silly me.

I think it’s worth a try, as there is really nothing harder than not being straight in high school, and really, even in this modern day, you can still feel all alone.

Please don’t think I’m hijacking your thread, because this is extremely on-topic. I just recorded a program at our radio station today, where the subject was teens’ attitudes about homosexuality. There were five people on it, average age 18. I’ve got to say, I’ve heard some Neanderthal attitudes before, but today took the freakin’ cake.

These kids made comments indicating, in part, that:

a) you can catch ‘the gay’
b) you might not have had a father in your family, just you and your mom and your brother, and he might have grown up to be homosexual because he was a mama’s boy.
c) you can just decide at any time to be gay, or not.
d) a guy might not be doing too well with the ladies, so he decides, “I’ll just go hang out with the dudes…” (with the full implication that he would turn gay instead)
e) homosexuals are the equivalent of murderers and rapists because the bible says all three are sins.
f) Q: Do you know any gay people? A: No. Well, I know one guy, I don’t know if he’s gay, but I think he is. Q: Why? A: He don’t be hangin’ with any girls, he always be with other guys.
g) if you’re a homosexual, you can’t go to church because god says it’s a sin and it’s against the ways of the church. You can’t be gay and belive in god.

I won’t shock you with any more anecdotes. This is the attitude you are up against. People walking among you actually believe this shit! And they’re not even fully-functioning adults yet.

I e-mailed the general manager and told her she needs to listen to this program before we edit it, because I think that putting it on the air would be a public relations disaster of the worst kind, no matter how many disclaimers the host put in the show. We would be crucified, and someone could challenge our license and we could possibly be fined or lose it.

I’m all for tolerance and promotion of good relations in the community, and I think there needs to be associations where gay folks can be made to feel like accepted members of the school population and everywhere else. But friend, you have got an uphill battle to make. Listening to what these kids were saying, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor numerous times.

Good luck in your endeavour, because you are definitely gonna need it.

Please say that no on believed both of these.

I’m sorry, pal, these kids were saying that they believed these things.

I couldn’t believe it, either.

I graduated high school a couple years ago and I believe we had a GSA. The only experience I had with them was when they did that ridiculous day of silence. The only effect the GSA had on me (or anyone else for that matter) is to have something to laugh about for a day.

OMG, a topic I can speak about, well!

Couple of questions:
How large is your HS, student-wise? I think that if it is a very small one, (<a couple hundred people), you might very well be ostracized for thinking differently, especially because such an institution is likely to be located in the rural wilderness.
Do you have a faculty advisor yet? Does your school require it to be an Official School Organization? (my bet is yes.)
Does your school require a certain number of people in order to be an Official School Organization? (My bet is yes.) Here, you might just think about having an informational meeting one day at lunch to see if you can get the interest up.
How long is your lunch? Is it customary for students to have meetings at lunch? If not, do you think that you’ll be able to draw the needed support after school?
How close is your HS to a large metro area? Are the any kind of gay related things in that area that you can participate in?

All of those questions being asked, here are my experiences from HS (We called it GSA, for Gay/Straight Alliance. Don’t know if you care either way.):
In a school of approximately 1300 people, we had about 15-20 regular members.
Most of what we did was talk about general school-related things, like making a GSA Homecoming float, the Day of Silence, and then other community-related gay-themed things, like booths with gay organizations at the Springfest, etc. I believe that we only met once a month, but you could be more ambitious if you really wanted.

As far as whether or not we changed any minds, well, I don’t know about that. Most of our time was spent trying to make ourselves visible, via the “Day of Silence,” whose premise (echoing the silence of… etc.) I really didn’t buy, but it did get the point across that we were serious about what we were doing, and drew a lot of support from non-GSA members. I’m not kidding - I’d estimate that we had at least 75 people doing it, including some teachers.

I would suggest that you make sure that your members are well-educated about gay issues, because if the goal is getting rid of stereotypes (good luck, especially in the south) or at least fostering good relations between gays and straights, your members are going to be confronted in conversations by other people who are convinced that the GSA is wrong, and your members need to be able to explain their points of views logically and intelligently.

I’m in the process of starting this organization at my college (Henderson State). Our first meeting is not next week, but the week after.

Good luck with yours, and I’ll keep reading this thread for updates.

I know that I just typed a whole bunch of stuff, but here’s a more lighthearted suggestion.

Find a masculine gay guy.

Get him to come out, and not get beaten.

Point out that he’s not wearing a skirt.

People’s minds are changed.

It won’t exactly work, but it does make for some interesting reactions when I get into discussions about gays. (For those who don’t know me, I’m quite masculine, and don’t fit the “gay stereotype”.)

Well, gone this far, might as well tell story.

Freshman Seminar, gotta do a debate on gay marriage. Uneducated Redneck (UR) is up against me (this is a wildly unstructured debate)

UR: I went to a place that is the gay capital of the US. [I believe he said Cincinnati, but I don’t remember. I would have picked SF, but he didn’t say that.] I was walking down the street and all over, there were these gay guys holding hands and kissing and they were just all over each other, and

Me: And straight people don’t do that?

UR: Yeah, but it’s different with gay people. They’re always all over each other, kissing and stuff. I wouldn’t want my kids to see that.

Me: It’s ok if your kids see straight people making out on the streets?

UR: Yeah, but gay people do it all the time, and it’s just gross.

Me: I’m gay, UR, and I’m not making any move towards you right now. [Off the record, he was quite attractive]

UR: <mumble mumble>

**Me ** and UR sit down. Other People start their debate.

fishbicycle - I’ve actually heard a lot worse than that. Sometimes, I am almost positive that teachers believe it as well. That is why I’m unsure as to how effective this GSA thing would be - would anyone at all change their ways or would it just piss everyone off? Unfortunatly, my brain is missing a filter so if I see a giant, formidable challenge, I’ll take it on with whatever I don’t have.

As for some numbers…

  • School population is about 1400
  • I kind of have an adviser, but for now she is just someone who is telling me about it. I’ll ask her if she wants to if I think I want to go through with it.
  • I’m a senior, the student body president, a largely well recieved cat, and generaly likable if any of that enters the picture.
  • We live in a little farming community 10-15 minutes away from Greensboro, which has a decent homosexual community. The tolerance level I am not sure about - I doubt we have ever had a gay pride parade in Greensboro.
  • Meetings can happen any time, but generally not at lunch.
  • A minimum number of members never occurs, and even if it did I could get kids in really fast.
  • People mistake me for being gay due to my “mature” stance on learning in general. Also, my clothes - awful vibrant if I do say so myself - never hurts to get people talking. Most people know I am straight, and I don’t care if they think otherwise, but if I am going to lead an organization devoted to normalizing homosexuality I think I should be normal myself. “Those silly art kids!” is a bad message, since it promotes bias and a stereotype.

Anyway, the only thing that I could see as a reason for it existing is to margainilize the thought of homosexuality. Make it normal and mabe make it slightly more acceptable.

Oh, and we never honor the Day of Silence at our school, but the Day of Truth is really well regarded with a good 30+ kids participating depending on the year.

Day of Truth? I’m intrigued.

You’ll be disappointed.

The world needs more people like that.

I got called a lesbian for having mostly male friends. I’m still trying to figure that one out :confused:

Meh. We had an SGA at my high school - 1600 students in Anaheim, CA. Nobody cared. It was pretty much just a place where some of the gay students hung out during lunch. They had no activities that I’m aware of, especially not towards promoting tolerance. Possibly because nobody at our school really cared if anyone was gay or not. One of the most popular guys at our school was gay. In fact, he only became popular after he came out and started wearing trendy, flamboyant clothes…prior to this, he was considered a big dork. Go figure.

Why are we focusing on what benefits GSA’s provide for straight students? For a gay student a GSA, even in a hostile environment, may be a godsend. There are many places where a gay kid may think he’s the only one and a total freak. Thousands of high school kids are just waiting to get out of there so they can be just a little bit open about who they are. A GSA could save them years of personal torment and isolation.

I am.

Seconded! I would have loved to take an active part in the GSA (as a straight female), but I was busy with tennis and debate and mock trial and . . . you get the idea. Even though I was busy, I kept an eye on the GSA and tried to help when I could (cheering them on and such).

And then they did the Day of Silence.

Afterwards, I made time to go to one of their meetings. I proceeded to give a 20 minute speech on why the Day of Silence was the stupidest. idea. ever.

As others have mentioned, a lot of high school students really believe you can catch the gay or my mom being gay means I am gay (seriously and these were the “smart” kids at a Varsity debate tournament!). Walking around in black clothing with black “tear drops” painted on your face does absolutely nothing for the friggin cause.

So do it- start a club. But for the love of Og! PLEASE *do something *. High school students will listen if you talk to them, they just don’t know any better right now.

This sounds a lot like the GSA at my school. It’s existed for two years, and in that time it hasn’t really DONE much of anything, but it’s a place where people can come and feel safe, and talk about GLBT-related issues that are on their mind. It would be wonderful if we did do more events, fundraisers, assemblies… something, and hopefully we will this year. But even if we don’t, it’s reassuring to students who are gay (or perceived to be gay) that they can come to GSA once a week, and feel like there’s a group of people who will support them and be there for them.

P.S. We’ve always called our club “GSA” so “SGA” sounds really strange to me. I don’t know if it alternative spellings are a “gay thing” or what, but I’ve also seen the letters of “GLBT” in at least 3 or 4 different orders.