Gay-Straight Alliance breaks ground


Magdalene Halikias

Gay Straight Alliance is a club that meets weekly and is open to anyone who wishes to feel accepted and promote acceptance.

It’s a rainy day in Hinsdale, and the school is quiet, save for the gym, the cafeteria, and conference room 124A, which is beaming with life.

It’s an important day for the Gay-Straight Alliance, Homecoming door decorating day. By 4:10 p.m., the group of eight students shows pride in their creation: palm trees, a foam gorilla; and at the center a sheet of printer paper that states simply: “I Heart GSA.”

Central’s GSA is just as much of a mystery to any outsider as the next club. One can see their flyers lining the walls and bulletin boards in nearly every hall and staircase, but may still pose the question: Who are GSA?

The answer lies in four words: enlightenment, positivity, acceptance, and fun. Since 2000, GSA has kept a focus on providing a safe space for those in and around the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community while maintaining a fun and relaxed environment.

“Every year the club changes, but the goal remains the same,” said social worker and club sponsor Mr. Michael McMahon. “The faces change, but the goal is always about enlightening people, to help them understand what the issues are in the LGBT community. And we’ve been doing it for 16 years.”

The club was opened in 2000 by a group of nine students, and was initially sponsored by a social work intern. However, when his internship ended a year after, Mr. McMahon, who had been working with the intern, was offered the sponsorship opportunity.

“I felt that LGBT students in the high school setting were a very discriminated-against population, and that they would need all the support that they could get. High school students, especially, may not have a voice,” Mr. McMahon said. “They’re being harassed, and they’re being discriminated against, they’re being bullied; in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. And if social work means anything, it’d be to help out.”

The issue of bullying is a hard-hitting problem for the LGBT community. GSA’s focus on enlightenment is in the interest of solving that problem, to first end misunderstanding, and next to promote acceptance.

“It’s a really positive club. People need to realize that it’s not just ‘oh, the gay club.’ I mean, there’s plenty of straight people too, but it’s more than all that. Positivity is such a large element of it,”  said Kathryn Nowak, sophomore and club president.

Ash Murphy, freshman and newcomer to the club, enjoys another element to the club. “Most people going into a new school are insecure about making new friends, myself included,” Murphy said. “This club offers new friends that are going to accept you for who you are.”