New Gay Straight Alliance at KHS Gives Voice to LGBT Community


The GSA’s rainbow ribbons. Photo by Sarah Dougherty.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. These colors have various meanings, but when blended together they stand for the LGBT+ community, a community that throughout history  has faced hatred, violence and discrimination.

The purpose of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is to confront such discrimination and make strides toward social progress. In an effort to do just that, senior Kendal Simmons created a GSA at Kinnelon High School.

Simmons said, “I think that it will help students who identify as LGBT to feel more comfortable with themselves and to just not feel so out of place.”

Likewise, senior Cooper Bresky said, “It will build awareness of the community at KHS and [address] the lack of visibility for members of LGBT at KHS.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1.3 million kids, or roughly eight percent of all high school students in America, identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; and believe it or not, it is likely that eight percent of the student body at KHS  would similarly identify. However, until now, the LGBT community lacked a vocal presence in Kinnelon. The GSA, as Simmons stated, is a way “to raise awareness about LGBT issues and get the conversation started.”

And KHS is certainly in need of such a conversation. According to the National School Climate Survey, 74.1 percent of LGBT students are verbally bullied (e.g., called names, threatened) because of their sexual orientation and 55.2 percent because of their gender expression.

Senior Peter Davin said, “[Change] is not necessarily about marching in the streets. The first step to solving the problem is just creating a general consciousness of how we treat each other.”

The GSA aims to facilitate the discussion among its members. Through biweekly lunch meetings, members of the club talk about their own experiences, both good and bad. They offer emotional support and they seek methods of change in a safe space.

Senior Sam Calabrese invites anyone to join saying, “Definitely come and stop by because it’s very inclusive and nobody’s going to judge you.”

But it’s not just about the LGBT community; they need allies. It is the responsibility of the allies to help make members of the LGBT community more comfortable in their own skin; it is their job to create a society that is kind to minorities. As senior Jenny Vecchione stated, “It’s conducive to making people more aware of that community if you have straight allies who are willing to advocate for you.”

The GSA has also sold, and will continue to sell, rainbow ribbons during lunch outside the cafeteria. Calabrese said, “If people buy ribbons and wear them on their shirts or on their backpacks it allows people to see that there are allies that care about the members of the LGBTQ+ community at KHS.”

So, buy a ribbon and support the Gay Straight Alliance! Together as a community, KHS can unite like the different colors of the rainbow flag and make a difference. As Simmons said,  “I want the GSA to make a difference, even just for one person.”