13 March 2015 - Lex Jin Coelho

GLOW: The Importance of Middle School GSAs

Carolina Friends School's MS GSA, GLOW. Thank you to all students, as well as Lisa Joyner, Erica Daniels, and Mig Hayes (and Jamendo) for interviews, ...

and the sixth grade my mom thought that

kids were going to actually kill me the violence got so bad in public school and so she came to Carolina's friends school and asked if I could come to this school so my name is Erica Daniels and I grew up in Durham North Carolina Dodd chicken farm and I went to Orange County Public Schools until I was in the sixth grade I experienced a lot of teasing and violence and abuse by other children there was also some abuse from within my family my father really didn't understand what being transgender meant or was and it scared him I think at first we didn't have the money for me to come to friends school but with a little encouragement from my mother and telling my story as a child and the abuse that I suffered they opened some doors for me and allowed me to have a scholarship so that I could afford to go to friends school and it really became the one safe place of my childhood I think that it's really important for schools to be a safe place for children and also to have GSA's in order to provide a space for everyone and not just kids that fit into a buying area a GSA is a Gay Straight Alliance where people with open minds straight allies or gay and lesbian

people can come together and talk about their feelings about their sexuality or the friend sexuality and to form a safe place Glo is a club in the middle school that stands for gay lesbian or whatever it's a safe community in the middle school that we created it's a place where um allies or just anyone can come join whoa was founded in the middle school at Carolina front school by students it was my second year teaching here at Carolina French school in a group of seventh graders at the time came to me and asked why we didn't have a Gay Straight Alliance students wanted there to be a place where we can really discuss especially the legal issues because this was a time when our state was embroiled in a lot of controversy below is a group of people who are interested in talking about sexuality talking about politics talking about their family and how it relates to LGBTQ and their feelings about that sort of thing and what they can do as an activist spring of 2012 there were signs popping up all over North Carolina because amendment one was on our ballot and this was an amendment that was going to be written into our state

constitution that defined marriage as being only between legally only between a man and a woman and at Carolina front school we have a lot of gay parents we have a lot of students with two moms or two dads and these students felt really disenfranchised they were scared they didn't understand what the implications were and they just wanted to save space at school to talk about that it's for really anybody who is like just an ally if you're questioning queer if you are totally if you've come out or if you just want to be there and support people when I first came back to friend school I went to here many years ago when I first came in to a globe meeting it was one of the first ones that they had walking in there was nothing but open lines of and people were still ready to be accepted I think it's important that a middle school has a GSA because that allows everyone to be considered as an equal for whatever they identify as and or whatever they want to be or would like to explore or even that they want to support their friends and family I think it's important to start teaching kids about equality and justice at a

young age I come from a family with two moms so I like knowing that I go to a school where it can be celebrated for me to like me that way instead of having to be afraid for people who are like themselves gay or lesbian for them to not be have to be in the closet or in the dark they can literally just be celebrated for who they are the sooner they know about equality or better and they can take action earlier and we can see a difference in the world below it starts out pretty small but it's become so big and that's mostly because of students so I mean if there's a student who wants to form a GSA and their school doesn't already have one then I'm just gonna tell them go for it the federal equal access law requires any school that has any non-curricular club to permit a GSA so any school especially schools that receive any government funding they are required to have a GSA if any students express interest in that so if a school has a chess club at the school as any kind of club that they should be allowed to have a gate Straight Alliance and they put posters on the wall that can meet in classrooms and you have

fundraisers they can do all of those things it is against the law to deny students the right to start a GSA at their school I would say be confident that even if other people aren't willing to speak up other people will definitely want to and then will support you and be by your side people might hide and might say stuff but you you have to just do what you want to do I'm sure there would be tons of people who would be so thankful that you had done something the one thing that lacked through a lot of my childhood was safety and support and I think that a lot of that came from people not being brave not knowing how to help and I think that bravery is something that often people shy away from being supportive of children that are different having a GSA shows nothing but bravery it shows people that are willing to step forward in front of everyone else and say you're not going to hurt this person because they're different we will protect each other because we love each other as human beings and that's so important if you can change one person they'll change two people and then if they change two people it just grows and we just spread

love if people can get past fear and find bravery there's nothing that we can't move past

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