By Ivey McDaniel| Staff writer
The Queer Straight Alliance Club is a club intended to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and their straight allies. The club is attempting establishment at Johnson.
“The QSA is going to be a support group, that’s its main point. I think a lot of people see and hear the things going on in school, and the goal is to make the climate of Johnson a better place,” junior and QSA club officer Ellen Pennington said.
Pennington decided to form the club after entering high school with the support from a friend.
“Actually, since freshman year, I’ve ben wanting to do this. You hear about them all over the nation and it wasn’t until last year when, a friend I’m co-founding with, Marielle Gaspar, brought it up,” Pennington said.
Roosevelt, Lee, and Madison already have QSA clubs at their school, so Pennington found it appropriate to form one at Johnson.
“We feel there’s a need for the club in the campus. To come to school each day and face the harassment and little comments, they have a really big effect on people, so I think it’s important to get a group together. It’s important to have this available so people feel okay with who they are,” Pennington said.
The goal of the club is to create a safe environment for queer students.
“The least we can do is provide a safe place where everyone can feel relaxed and everyone can be okay with who they are. We want people to know, in that spot, they’re accepted,” said Pennington.
This isn’t the only goal of the club. The QSA plans on providing their services to the community.
“We’re going to try and volunteer, we want to do something for the community. If we could, we’d like to do events or put out information to decrease the intolerance,” Pennington said.
However, the club is not official yet.
“We started off, getting great input for the liberal club, and now we’re sister clubs. They gave us advice on how to get the club going. Right now, our stopping point is getting 20 parent signatures, and that’s difficult because a lot of students don’t want to approach their parents about the issue,” said Pennington.
Yet Pennington has high hopes for the future.
“But, once we get the club started I think we’ll have a really great group. We’ve started a Facebook group and we currently have 43 members. That doesn’t even include the amount of members we could get from advertising at our school. The group will be exclusive to a point, since we do have to protect some member’s confidentiality due to the nature of the club,” Pennington said.
Although the club plans to be sponsored by James Felux and Barbra McCain, the club is student lead.
“We will simply be advisors, when they’re planning things. We aren’t going to dictate what they do, but we’re here to provide a mature voice and keep them on track,” McCain said.
For McCain, to spread information about the importance of equality is important.
“It’s not just for people who are of a different orientation, it’s for people who believe gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender students also have rights. It’s important to have this club at our school because many are misinformed, and they don’t understand what’s going on. I’ve had a number of friends who were gays and lesbians, and they struggled in high school. That’s usually when people start accepting their feelings, so I thought this would be a good thing to do in honor of them,” McCain said.
Pennington urges students who are open-minded and willing to stand up for their beliefs, to join the club.
“The benefit is you’re opening up your network of people, it’s a very diverse group, and you understand the struggles people in that minority face everyday. It opens people’s perspective about the effect small comments have,” Pennington said.