GSA: The Gay Straight Alliance

Meeting+every+Friday+in+Room+S-3%2C+the+Gay+Straight+alliance+is+Downey+High%27s+most+recent+addition+to+the+array+of+after+school+activities+and+clubs.++The+adviser%2C+Mr.+Zakour+supervised+and+participated+in+the+first+meeting+of+the+year.

Cindy Romero, Photo Editor

Meeting every Friday in Room S-3, the Gay Straight alliance is Downey High’s most recent addition to the array of after school activities and clubs. The adviser, Mr. Zakour supervised and participated in the first meeting of the year.

Brandon Pineda, News Editor

Centered on one main goal, the new members of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) congregated for their first meeting on Jan. 14. The goal of GSA is to make their school community safe and welcoming to all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Senior Robert Mejico, current Vice President of GSA, was interested in bringing the club back from its downfall.

“I really wanted to start GSA again,” Mejico said. “Equality is important and we really need to be the ‘shoulder’ to anyone in need of assistance.”

The meeting started on a high note and maintained its pitch till the end. The opening speeches from the board ensured that all are welcome and none will be persecuted. Not only does it invite those for equality, GSA also extends an invitation to those opposed to gay rights. GSA’s goal is to rid homophobia among high school youth. Newcomer April Watson has full faith in the organization.

“I believe gay rights are very important. We need to get rid of all the hate and discrimination between our peers,” Watson said. “Equality is the best decision.”

During the meeting, the board asked everyone to announce their name  and an interesting fact about them as an introductory ice-breaker. The room was filled with diversity among responses and orientation.

Historically, GSA was a controversial club from its roots. In 1999, the Orange School District in Orange County, California voted unanimously to prohibit the formation of a GSA at El Modena High School. The students sued the school board, claiming that their rights under the First Amendment and the 1984 Equal Access Act had been violated. In the first-ever ruling of its kind, Judge David O. Carter of the The United States District for the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction ordering the school to allow the GSA to meet. However, though the formation of the club was legal, members of GSA faced discrimination from their peers and they were outlawed from their cliques.

Last year, the club was up-and-running at DHS, but due to poor management and opposition, the club was lost. Nevertheless, the fall did not stop GSA from standing up.Junior Samantha Delgado feels at home with GSA.

“I think GSA will be my new favorite club,” Delgado said. “I want to feel equal and I love being welcomed as an individual.”

GSA promotes equality, not conversion. Downey High School’s promotion of the new club is a push toward peace and less animosity in the student body.