Explore Knowledge Academy, a public k-12 charter school in Las Vegas, Nevada, was a school I held dear to my heart for many years. Until, I was confronted and accosted about my interest in starting a Gay Straight Alliance. Many of my closest friends, some as young as 13, were being called vulgar names and were being harassed for being gay. The word "gay" is even banned on their internet/search engines! So simply being a concerned friend, I looked into the matters and learned about a GSA. I wanted to create a safe zone for people of all sexual orientations, a place where they could shed their worries of being verbally and physically abused in the hallways. I started speaking about starting one with my friends and posting on Facebook to try and gauge general interest. The administrator, heard and pulled me into her office one morning. She said she had read the posts I had on my Facebook wall and told me that a GSA could not be started because it would force them to "open the school up to the Klu Klux Klan as well." She then told me that it would just worsen the bullying, and they should just report the bullying to the staff, etc. She shamed me for a half an hour and made me feel as if my friends should live in fear and hide their true self. She told me that if people went to the group and were supporters, it would make them targets and just worsen everything. She gave me the impression that you should not be out and proud, but you should hide your own identity for your own personal safety.
After the study of laws regarding the Gay Straight Alliance, I found a federal law that states "It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance...to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting ...on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings." The law also defines that as long as there are other non-curricular clubs at the school, they must allow equal access.
My school already had Theatre, Chess, Golf, and Cheer. I spoke with the counselor who told me that Chess and these were not part of the curriculum and I re-approached the administrators just to be shot down again.
Please help my friends start a Gay Straight Alliance at this school this year!
It is time to put our feet down and say NO to the shaming and discrimination of LGBT students!