Chattahoochee’s Gender Sexuality Alliance Club has acted as a safe space for students that identify as apart of the LGBTQ community and those that would like to gain a better understanding, but does not necessarily identify within that community. GSA is so much more than an extracurricular to many members—it’s a support system and therapeutic experience. The club highlights the fact that their main issues are not LGBTQ rights, but human rights. President of GSA, Hayley Johnson (JR), has made great strides towards making the club the best it can be. Johnson believes that, “If you are LGBT+ or an ally and you feel like you want to be a part of or/are in need of a support system this is the place for you to be.” Johnson has created many memories with others in the club and within the community. As the club did their introductory “I need GSA because…” posters she “came to the realization that this club wasn’t just a fun place to talk with people,” but rather “a safe haven.” With the help and support of the staff at Chattahoochee, GSA has become an extremely successful club.
Madam Vincelli has been a sponsor for GSA for the past two years and had a great impact on club members. She has created an open environment for students of all sexual orientations and identities. Vincelli chose to sponsor the club after former student, Heath Goldman, “wanted to form the club for himself and his friends dealing with bullying difficulties because of their sexual orientation.” She also believes the club offers “a safe place to talk about the challenges they might face with family and friends.” There is undoubtedly no other club like this one. It encompasses the most diverse array of students. Before last year the club acronym stood for Gay Straight Alliance rather than Gender Sexuality Alliance. With this change came a heightened focus on non-cisgender. Cisgender is when a person identifies with their assigned sex at birth. Vincelli accounts that last year’s biggest goal and achievement was “to get a non-gender specific restroom at school.” The new name advocates for gender fluidity and expression while also getting rid of the division between sexual orientation and gender identity.
Each year GSA attends the Pride Parade in Atlanta, and this year was no different. Pride 2016 was full of great jubilation and celebration of identity and self-expression, “It’s a freeing experience for LGBT+ kids to feel not only unashamed of who they love, but celebrated for it. ” Johnson affirms that every member should experience the parade first hand because it’s important to “see adults who are LGBT+ and happy; it reminds us that this isn’t just a phase, and that we aren’t alone.” The event is so much more than a parade, but a “celebration of love.”
“If you are someone who needs a place to get help, or want to help someone else, come to a meeting,” Johnson goes on to say although the help offered isn’t “professional” it comes from “people who have been in similar situations and want to offer some words of encouragement. The Gender Sexuality Alliance is absolutely key to the Hooch family and is the glue that holds much of the school’s diversity together.