GSA Should Play a More Active Role

When someone mentions club meetings, the first thought that race through a student’s head include excited chatter and a room crowded with cheerful, enthusiastic students. Rarely do students imagine an almost silent room, with just a few students attending the meeting.

However, for the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), such meetings, which are scheduled in room 203 on Thursdays during lunch, are becoming the norm.

Although it has good intentions, the GSA needs to become more politically active and a warm, welcoming community for students struggling with sexuality issues.

“It’s just talking, not doing,” former vice president junior Victoria Valles said. “It should be a much stronger support group.”

Victoria left the GSA after feeling that it was “almost a hassle” for people to be bothered about making the club a visible resource for students.

“I had this problem of feeling like I was a leader that didn’t lead people in the direction of having a fun, open GSA,” Victoria.

Sophomore Jake Powers suggested that the problem is that either students do not feel the need for a GSA or the club itself does not present itself as open and looking for new members.

According to Jake, more students might attend club meetings if “they said over the announcements that they were for new, accepting people and that everyone’s welcome.”

President of the GSA senior Tony Zhukovskiy says that the real problem is the lack of members.

“The GSA is a safe place, and it could be very helpful, but it’s not publicized as a place for people to feel safe ata and a place to come out to, and that’s mostly the fault of the members,” Tony said.

According to former club adviser and Administrative Assistant Ruth Gibbs, the GSA has been extremely active in the past, even if it is not so anymore.

“They had a historical event: the Gay Pride parade in downtown Los Altos,” Gibbs said. “This was a big, big deal.”

The club was responsible for pioneering the introduction of the “Safe Zone” signs that now hang in classrooms around the school and would regularly invite speakers to meetings. According to Gibbs, the members had also been invited to march in the San Jose Gay Pride parade, one of the few such parades in the Bay Area.

However, such political activism quickly disappeared last year when the club decided to instead focus on, as Gibbs put it, “having fun.”

The success of the GSA at Mountain View High is an example of how political activism and a strong welcoming message result in a more powerful on-campus resource.

According to sophomore Danny Kirsch, Vice President of the Mountain View High School GSA, the size of an average meeting is about 20 students. A Los Altos High meeting typically has five.

“[The GSA] is a good way to spread awareness about our cause,” Danny said. “We go in the spring to Sacramento for a day and we go lobby for gay rights causes. If you’re going to have a successful GSA, you need a few people who want to get up there and say things that people don’t want to hear.”

If the LAHS Gay-Straight Alliance were to revive its activism and work to promote itself as a helpful resource, it would be able to attract more members and better serve the students at the school.

Unless the GSA takes the initiative to spread the message of acceptance and a safe forum for communication, the members will just have to get used to holding meetings with five students. And students will be forced to get by without what could potentially have been one of the most valuable resources on campus.