Gender and Sexuality Awareness Club: An engine for advocacy


Rose Liu

At a Thursday meeting of the GSA, two club members draft the weekly plan, dubbed “The Gay Agenda.” The club seeks to provide an inclusive community and spread awareness about issues affecting the LGBT community.

As senior Fenn Marsot sounds the chime in Room 303, another meeting of the Gender and Sexuality Awareness (GSA) club begins. Once everyone finishes their lunch and files into the classroom, the club sets its attention on the meeting board, dubbed by Co-President junior Bella Sullivan as the “Gay Agenda.”

With more than 40 members on its Discord server and about 20 members who regularly attend meetings, GSA has built an inclusive community for LGBTQ+ students at Los Altos High School.

“High school is an easy place for people to feel disconnected from everything, especially if they’re queer,” Fenn said. “So our first priority has always been to make [GSA] a space where people feel welcome.” 

Every Thursday at the beginning of lunch, club members form a circle outside of the classroom and enjoy their lunches together. Through these hang-outs and community building activities, members create a sense of community by sharing personal experiences with identity struggles and supporting each other. 

“Through the club, you can know that there are other people going through what you’re going through and that you’re not alone,” senior Mia Stoaks said. “You know that you’re not weird for how you feel or who you are, and people can help you get through it.”

Through a support network of peers with similar experiences, members are able to learn from upperclassmen’s journeys of finding their identities. Having the guidance of upperclassmen has helped those still struggling with their identities become more confident in themselves. 

“I’ve been part of the club since freshman year,” senior Thomas Malinovsky said. “And back then, I had no idea what most of the LGBTQ+ letters stood for. So having older queer people around me really helped me out. It’s really been the place where I’ve met a lot of the people that I’m friends with now, and it’s meant a lot to me.”

One message Fenn tries to share with members is the importance of speaking up for themselves when others’ words or behaviors are uncomfortable for them, including combatting the normalization of calling things gay in a negative context. Fenn believes most student and staff are well-meaning, but remain unaware of the impact their words have on the queer community. 

While community building has been the core purpose of the club, the members also want to spread awareness about gender and sexuality to help the students and staff understand the experiences of students identifying as LGBTQ+. 

“I wanted [to implement] an educational program for the teachers,” Fenn said. “From my experiences, some teachers don’t completely know what kind of language to use or how to talk to someone who is trans. And it would be nice if we could have some resources and programs for those teachers who don’t know a lot about how gender identity and expression work.” 

On top of the educational program, GSA is hoping to play an active role on campus by organizing activities that would promote LGBTQ+ rights and awareness. One of their projects includes reaching out to and inviting local drag queens to come into the club and share their experiences. 

As its members strive to develop a culture of inclusion, the GSA is always welcoming to newcomers. Whether it’s engaged in advocacy or simply serving as a safe place for those who need one, it aims to remain a fixture of LGBT life on campus.