December 27, 2016

In Light of Trump-Pence Victory, What’s Next for the GSA?

Alissa Lampert ‘18

Our country has mixed feelings about the results from the November 8th election. Some groups are expressing a sense of fear toward the future.
One community that is expressing much of this fear is the LGBTQ community. Between the North Carolina bathroom bill and the Orlando shootings, the community has had an extremely unsettling two years, even with the legalization of marriage rights for gays.
Their fear is not completely unfounded, as Vice President-Elect Mike Pence is known for his opposition to gay marriage. He has also declared himself as an advocate for conversion therapy, in which LGBTQ youth are tortured into being heterosexual.
Even though it is very difficult to reverse a Supreme Court ruling like the one on gay marriage, many members of the LGBTQ community are still afraid of other changes and attacks that might come their way. It has become the job of larger organizations and support groups, now more than ever, to work with LGBTQ people to make them feel safe in their communities.
The election has driven many well known LGBTQ groups and Gay-Straight Alliance chapters to be more active in their communities so that young people feel safe in their homes and schools. National groups, like Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and The Trevor Project, have been forming support groups of which many people have spoken highly.
This idea is also being discussed within the GSA at Golda Och Academy.
GSA adviser Mr. Jordan Herskowitz said he plans to implement similar support methods so that GOA students feel comfortable.
“At GOA, our Gay-Straight Alliance is working on programs and bringing in speakers to keep awareness up and the conversation going,” he said. “GOA will continue to find ways to be inclusive to all, regardless of someone's sexual orientation and gender identity, through working alongside the GSA on programming initiatives, continuing the work of the LGBTQ Inclusiveness Faculty Committee, and being a partner with larger LGBTQ organizations, like Keshet and North Jersey Pride.”
Junior GSA leader Lizzie Irwin, agrees with these ideas and hopes that members of the GOA community will also take initiative to ensure comfort and safety in the school environment.
“Teachers and students alike should be encouraged to look out for their peers that could possibly feel threatened by certain policies that are coming forth because of the new elected administration,” she said. “There should be a continual conversation as to what is actually going on in government and how it affects individuals of our country.”
Irwin explained that the GSA wants to open discussion and encourages using one’s voice to make an impact.
“It is necessary that GSA leaders and members of the LGBTQ community contact their local representatives,” she said, “and urge them to keep them in mind, and even specifically tell them, what type of laws they want to see passed and rejected.”
Overall, there is great hope for progress and unity. Allies should speak up for others now more than ever, so the great progress can be maintained throughout this time under a new administration.

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