BHS Offers Safe Place for LGBTQ+ Students and Allies

Tessa Wilson, contributor

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Until recent years, people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum have not been viewed or treated as equals. The community has been fighting for decades to gain rights and representation. Struggles such as these exist at Blackford High School. Derogatory comments and slurs affect LGBTQ+ students. Freshman students Sarah Bartlett and Gabby Fadely recognized these problems and decided to take action.

“I felt like we needed [GSA] because there are a lot of people in this school that are LGBTQ+,” Fadely said.

“We wanted to create a safe and accepting place for everybody. I plan to spread awareness [of] genders and sexualities and kind of create a family,” said Bartlett.

The two friends asked English 9 teacher, Brandon Schuler, about starting Blackford High School’s first Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA). Schuler agreed to be the group’s faculty advisory. Meetings are held every other week on Thursday or Friday in Schuler’s classroom, room 118. The meetings are not only for members of the LGBTQ+ community but also for its supporters.

“GSA is important so that students know there is a place for a little bit of refuge even if it’s only every other week for 90 minutes. That’s still 90 minutes every other week that they can feel safe and secure with who they are and with the company that they keep which can lead to them being more comfortable with themselves,” said Schuler.

The small demographic and rural location of Blackford High School makes it feel less than ideal to LGBTQ+ students who often feel isolated and neither supported nor understood.

“In my experience, most people that I’ve met are against LGBTQ+ rights,” Fadely said. But the group hopes to bridge the gap between LGBTQ+ people and the larger community by straightening out commonly held misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ populace.

“Hopefully we’ll get some people who were questioning LGBTQ+ rights in general and maybe they’ll come hang out and see that it’s not some weird deviant thing that they think it is, and realize that they are just normal people who are different than they are and they can understand what it means,” Schuler said.

“It’s important to me because my whole life I’ve been surrounded by my family and we are all equalists and we support those rights. That’s why it was necessary for me to start [the club],” Bartlett said.

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