GSA, (Gender and Sexuality alliance) is a club within BMHS that works hard to give students, whether they’re members of the LGBTQ community or not, a safe space where they can freely and respectfully speak their minds. I interviewed the club’s president Fiona Nunn. As an activist and a member of the community herself, she was chosen to take over GSA this year by last year’s club president, Jax Garcia. When offered the position, it was clear to her that she had to accept, her strong leadership skills and will to help the greater good prompted her to take the opportunity. “I wanted to contribute to creating a safer and more welcoming school environment.” As this year’s GSA president, she hopes to be “a voice for the voiceless.” After speaking with Fiona about how people in the LGBTQ community are treated in Brien Mcmahon, I realized that more work needs to be done than I’d previously thought, specifically in regards to how trans kids are treated at Mcmahon
There’s a plethora of changes Fiona and the students in GSA hope to make this year, yet it’s agreed that some hold more weight than others. While other groups within the LGBTQ community are more accepted or acknowledged in our school, trans people seem to get the short end of the stick. Though there’s not an abundance of examples of trans students at Mcmahon getting harassed for being transgender, I wouldn’t say they’re welcomed with open arms. Trans kids simply being “tolerated” isn’t good enough. As students at Brien Mcmahon, they’re senators just like everyone else, and they deserve to feel like they belong at this school. Something Fiona is specifically determined to change is getting gender neutral bathrooms inside of the school approved. She’s aware that it’s unrealistic to expect every bathroom in the school to make the switch, but she knows we have to start somewhere, even if it’s a small change.
Another issue Fiona discussed is the fact that trans people are often not taken seriously or used as the bud of a joke. These “harmless” jokes contribute to the discomfort of trans kids. For example, referring to someone as “it” instead of asking them to clarify their pronouns, or students calling your friend a trans slurs to make fun of them and get a laugh out of people. If everyone began to stop tolerating these jokes, and to refrain from making them in the first place, collectively we can improve the environment at school for trans people.
Fiona also touched on what she believes teachers and adults in the building can do to help this cause. She mentioned that if teachers put just a little extra effort into learning students’ pronouns and normalize asking for them, it will become the norm in our classrooms. If a teacher refers to a student by their preferred name and pronouns, more likely than not, so will the other students. “Teachers are responsible for setting the climate of their classroom.” Fiona explained. She thinks that we can spare trans kids the awkwardness of being misgendered if teachers go over everyone’s pronouns at the beginning of the year, during ice breakers. Lastly, simply enforcing the 0 tolerance policy, of any jokes or slurs they hear in the building hear.
GSA is a club designed to help us understand one another. The difficulties that come with trying to see where another person is coming from is also what makes life interesting. I think striving to make our school feel safe for everyone attending it is what we should focus on. GSA is trying to promote equality for everyone, which is the same ideal present in Fiona’s favorite quote,“all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.” This is what GSA really stands for.