GSA off to ambitious start in ’21


Hollin Keintz, Editor-in-Chief

If you have noticed teachers wearing colorful lanyards around the school, they are probably proudly displaying their support for Big Sky’s Gender Sexuality Alliance club, or GSA. The group recently printed and laminated rainbow colored tags for teacher lanyards. On one side, the lanyard says “LGBTQIA2S+ Affirming Educator” and on the other it says “All Students Are SAFE in My Space!”
GSA meets weekly and provides a safe space for all students. Regardless of orientation or identity, everyone is welcome to attend as long as they come with an open mind and behave respectfully. Staff, too, are encouraged to attend to learn more about the club and what they stand for.
Club president, Junior Mercy Gordon (she/he/they) said, “Our main goals for the club are to provide a safe place for anyone who needs it, bring attention to specifically gender and sexuality related issues or topics, and amplify young queer voices.”
The club has been working really hard on easy and safe accessibility to the gender neutral bathroom that Gordon and a few other juniors advocated for their freshmen year. In addition, club adviser Nicole Hensley (she/her) helped to pass out the GSA badges to teachers.
“A badge signifies that the teacher in possession of the badge is an ally to the LGBTQ+ and is someone they can go to if they need help. The reception has been pretty good. Not every teacher wears their lanyard, but I personally have noticed a lot of teachers that do and it’s really comforting and heartening to see,” Gordon said.
The GSA’s two big projects coming up are painting pride flags for the gender neutral bathroom and a clothing drive, both of which any students or staff at school are welcome to participate in.
“GSA is focused on creating a safe and accepting environment for everyone, especially those who might not have that safety and acceptance otherwise. Regardless of their orientation or identity or if they’re closeted or out, our club is a place where everyone is free to be and express themselves without worrying about facing the serious consequences many other queer youths do,” Gordon said. “I know that for me personally, being able to attend GSA my freshman year and being able to thrive in that space as my true self was so important to me at the time and seriously affected me for nothing but the better. I am incredibly privileged to have a very loving and supportive family, and I’m really proud to see how our GSA is shaping up to be a loving and supportive family of our own for our members who aren’t as lucky as I am.”
GSA Vice President Max Berndt (they/them), sophomore, said, “GSA is very important to me as I feel like, as a non-binary person, or someone who tends to fit into the ‘other’ category, my voice, opinion and feels tend to be overlooked and GSA is a place I can changed that a make Big Sky a better, more welcoming place.”
Berndt will be leading the projects with Hensley, but has not set dates for either the clothing drive or painting of the gender neutral bathroom.
In the meantime, Berndt said, “It’s also very important to me to try to educate staff as much as possible as I know Big Sky’s staff has the best intentions towards LGBTQ+ members, but sometimes they need help figuringout the best way to make us feel safe.”
Gordon stresses that anyone and everyone is welcome to join club meetings, which are held Wednesdays at lunch in Hensley’s room.