Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Montville Township (NJ) High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance

  • March 7, 2017
  •    BY Catherine Lomauro (Contributor)

By Catherine Lomauro, Student Assistance Counselor, Montville Township (NJ) High School

Montville Township (New Jersey) High School’s Gay Straight Alliance was the subject of the School Spotlight presentation at the November School Support Network meeting at the College of Saint. Elizabeth (http://www.unitedwaynnj.org/ourwork/ed_youthempower_schoolsupportnetwork.php). The Gay-Straight Alliance provides a supportive, inclusive environment for students, and a safe space to ask questions and share experiences. Topics of discussion at Gay-Straight Alliance meetings have included practicing means of self-advocacy at school, at home, and in the world, sharing experiences of encountering bias and lack of understanding, discussing current events relevant to students’ experiences as part of the LGBT+ community, and sponsoring observances (including Ally Week and Day of Silence). Overall, the Gay-Straight Alliance provides students with a sense of belonging and connectedness – both to each other, and to the school community.

LGBT+ youth need support from faculty, staff, students, and administration as a foundational piece of their future success, both academically and personally. Being a part of the Gay-Straight Alliance helps students to combat internalized homophobia and transphobia, helping to create a more positive self-image. The Gay-Straight Alliance contributes to creating positive school climate, showing that schools can be a part of social change by ensuring that LGBT+ students’ feeling safe and protected is a critical priority for all facets of the school community. This is because doing so models for other students that LGBT+ classmates are their peers, worthy of respect and acceptance.

Words from students themselves illustrate the value of their involvement in the GSA . One student shared that, “GSA is important to me because we can learn from each other about what it means to be happy about ourselves.” Another student said that, “GSA means a lot to me because it is important to recognize the anxiety and fear that LGBT kids live with.” Other responses include that time spent with the GSA felt like a “relief” and that it can serve as a means to “bring important issues to light.”

Protecting LGBT+ students is a way to protect all students because it gives us an opportunity to model humanity, empathy, fairness, and tolerance to the community as a whole – a mission that the Gay-Straight Alliance shares and promotes at Montville Township High School. Now, more than ever, schools and communities must reaffirm their commitment to tolerance and inclusion, especially for LGBT+ students.

Catherine Lomauro is Faculty Advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance. For more information about Montville Township High Schools Gay Straight Alliance, please go to the webpage: http://www.montville.net/Domain/862

 

    • March 7, 2017
  •    BY Catherine Lomauro (Contributor)