Students at Timber Creek High School have rallied together and formed a Gay Straight Alliance club to provide a safe and welcoming environment to every member of the school who may be struggling, or wish to support others who may be struggling.
Their full mission statement is as follows: “This club is designated to provide a safe environment where LGBTQ+ and allied students can feel comfortable to discuss important issues and provide support for one another. Our Gay-Straight Alliance will give students a safe haven in which they know they are accepted by everyone around them, and are free to be who they are. During GSA meetings, we will discuss issues related to the LGBTQ+ community and its relevance in our school, share helpful advice, and organize LGBTQ+ awareness projects, as well as participating in off-campus events.”
“It’s basically a place where we want to make people feel safe and accepted in a world where maybe they’re not,” said member Kaylee Farmer.
Club meetings have flexible format, with open-forum discussions between group members. If a member was not comfortable with speaking up or sharing an experience, they were not required to speak at all.
One club leader, Zoe Fleming, added “We welcome anybody and everybody in there and we want everyone to be able to feel comfortable with who they are and talk about the issues that we feel are important and going on in our society and school.”
The safety of club members holds paramount importance to the leaders of the GSA. Fleming stated that the club has put into place “standard rules and guidelines that we go by to make sure that everyone feels equal and can talk about anything they want to talk about.”
Struggles are unfortunately common for LGBT students in our nation today. A recent Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network study revealed that 74-percent of LGBT students have experienced verbal harassment for their sexual orientation, 55-percent for their gender expression. The GLSEN also reported that 30-percent of LGBT students have missed at least one day of school over the course of a month because they felt unsafe to attend. Timber Creek students are not exempt from these behaviors.
As LGBT awareness in the school has considerably flared up since the #LetCaseyPromposal incident during the 2014-2015 school year and a debate at the Keller ISD School Board over an anti-bullying policy change regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, the creation of the GSA comes at a key time.
Club member and ally Daniel Nkoola has witnessed harassment between students regarding another’s sexual orientation and gender identity.
“There seems to be an utter lack of understanding of the LGBTQ+ community,” Nkoola pointed out.
“I feel like there is a lot of bullying and discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity and I feel like, you know, with this club, it helps people realize that we’re moving forward and it’s not going to last forever.” Fleming remarked.
“It’s very important that these students get the support that they need because of how hard it is and the hardships that they face, which not a lot of people know about,” another club leader, Riley Ashford, said.
These students are raising one another up; despite what sexual orientation or gender identity they may have. Their message is one of hope and support, uniting gay, straight, and transgender students alike in a unique camaraderie.
As summed up by Ashford: “Just the thought of having someone behind you, even if you don’t need that, or you don’t want it, it’s a good thing to know that there’s someone there for you.”
This article is part of a series on student-led clubs and organizations at Timber Creek. These clubs, though they meet on campus, are not sponsored by TCHS administration and are governed by the following administrative regulation from Keller ISD: Secondary – Student Led Non-Curriculum Groups