Administration and teachers like Hoover’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) advisor, Michael Heu, received “Out for Safe Schools” badges and posters by participating in an LGBTQIA+ student-led “Out for Safe Schools” training at Hoover High School. By wearing their badges on lanyards and displaying the posters in their classrooms, Hoover High School teachers and staff create safe spaces on campus and show support for the LGBTQIA+ community at Hoover.
The “Out for Safe Schools” workshop and training was coordinated and led by the GSA in order to educate, inform and build advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community at Hoover High School.
Fernando, President of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Hoover High said there was a “noticeable shift” in the classrooms of teachers who participated in the “Out for Safe Schools” training workshop.
“After the training, I witnessed teachers have greater awareness and call attention to students’ behaviors when they are acting in a way that is not okay,” said Fernando. “The “Out for Safe Schools” workshop helped teachers make sure (Hoover) is a safe place for (LGBT+) students.”
LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexuality and the “+” symbol stands for all of the other sexualities, sexes, and genders that aren’t included in these letters.
The term non-binary applies to a person who does not identify as “male” or “female,” and may prefer to be referred to using a different pronoun than “he” or “she.” Examples of non-binary pronouns are “they,” “per,” “sie,” “ve,” “zie” and “name only.”
The practice of introducing oneself and one’s pronoun/s when meeting for the first time is one that is becoming more common, and serves to strike assumptions about the identity of others.
Hoover High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is made up of a diverse group of students, meeting on campus every Tuesday at 12 pm in the V2 classroom. The “small social group” is open to any student who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, “+”, as well as allies of these students, according to Fernando, GSA President.
“Through GSA we try to make sure (Hoover) is a safe campus for LGBT+ students and their allies,” said Fernando. “We also try to make sure it is a place where there is no bullying or harassment toward these groups or individuals.”
A national study of middle and high school students shows that LGBT students (61.1%) were more likely than their non-LGBT peers to feel unsafe or uncomfortable because of their sexual orientation, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think the (“Out for Safe Schools”) training was the first step,” said Jamelia B., Vice President of Hoover’s GSA. “I don’t expect all students to automatically support each other because they’re just teenagers and a lot of them are not that mature.
But, I feel teachers should always be supportive because they are adults and they already know things. If they see another person or student getting bullied because of their identity, they should step in and properly assess the situation, so the person can learn from it; learn not only that their behavior is wrong, but why it is wrong.”