Gay-Straight Alliance

Student club supports gay rights

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By: Harley Butler, Staff Writer

Here at James River, there is a club for the students that struggle with their sexuality and for kids who support their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer peers called The Gay/Straight Alliance.  

According to a Gallup poll, 20 percent  of the teens in 2015 are part of the LGBTQ community. It takes a kind, thoughtful person to direct these meetings, because a lot of people disagree with the whole idea of the LGBTQ community.

“I’m the sponsor, but I don’t direct the meetings. This club is not for anyone in particular, it’s basically for having like minded people together,” sponsor and school librarian Ann Reinke said.

93 percent of the teens that are homosexual are bullied for their sexuality, according to Violence Prevention Works.

“In the past we’ve served as a safe haven. We’ve had bullying, so much bullying. In fact, we were one of the first schools to provide this club for students,” Reinke said.

Pew Research states that about 25 percent of the straight population is “anti-gay.”

“We had to go to the school board once because they tried to shut it down. The anti-gay community used outrageous lies to attempt to shut it down, our club did not have many supporters,” Reinke said.

This club has been around for about 14 years, and is now supported by many. According to Pew research about 75 percent of the population fully support gay rights.

“I fought my entire life for gay rights,” Reinke said.

James River students attend their second meeting. Photo by Harley Butler

The Gay Straight alliance club is a club of many different dynamics.

“The group of people change every year,” senior and GSA president Julie Beasley said. “We’ve had a variety of different leaders that do different things too and the people in here are very open and are here to help, it’s a very nice tolerant club.”

If you are interested in the Gay/Straight Alliance connect with either Ann Reinke in the library or Julie Beasley to join.
“This club is not only for people that are homesexual, it’s also for kids that are straight. It’s for them to further support their personal beliefs,” Reinke said.

Students opened up and talked about how they discovered their sexuality. Photo by Harley Butler

Day of Silence dedicated to help end anti-LGBT bullying

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By: Kayla Kirk, Staff Writer

On Friday, April 17th marked the national Day of Silence, where students across the county called attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in school. The Day of Silence is the largest student-led action towards creating safer schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender expression. Students do have a right to participate in the Day of Silence, though this doesn’t allow entire silence to be held within the classroom. Surprisingly there wasn’t as much participation as there was the previous year, even the leader of the Gay-Straight Alliance last year, Ari Zanetta took notice.

“ I didn’t notice anything at all, and I feel that’s partly my fault. I was head of the GSA last year, but relinquished my position this year because it was too stressful. No one took up the reins, so the GSA dissolved, thus there was no formal organization, other than Lydia’s morning announcements, to call more attention to the Day of Silence. Still, I found Lydia’s announcements heartening,” Zanetta said

Even though the Day of Silence didn’t receive as much recognition this year at JRHS it still had a few supporters dedicated to the silence that day. Regardless of this there was still thousands of students across the country that had participated in the Day of Silence and it was still a success.

“It isn’t a far-and-away success, but rarely anything is, especially in the realm of social justice and civil rights. Given that, I think it’s fairly successful for what it is. The mere fact that it got on the announcement several times is hugely encouraging,” Zanetta said.