For Timber Creek students who are interested in being a part of a club this school year, the Gay-Straight Alliance Club is welcoming of any and all people, students and staff, to join. GSA meets every Thursday, after school, in room C120.
GSA is a national organization that brings together students of all backgrounds, sexualities and gender identities. Here at Timber Creek, the club was created in 2015. English teacher, Taylor Romero, sponsors the club proudly, and has since the beginning.
“At the beginning of the [school] year, in 2015, I had my students talk about something interesting about them,” explained Romero. “And I had a student say, ‘Well something interesting about me is that I met my girlfriend over the summer,’ and I said ‘Oh thats really cool.’ She came to me after school and she said, ‘Hey you were really cool about me being a lesbian, I really want to start a GSA at this school but I need a sponsor, would you like to do it?'”
From that point of student initiative and on, the club experienced a huge explosion of members.
“It seemed like it must have been filling a need that was already in the school because people just started coming right away,” Romero said.
Four years ago, GSA membership hovered around 25 to 30 people every meeting. This year so far, meetings have had up to 50+ attendees. Just like the membership numbers, the demographic of students coming to meetings has changed as well.
“In the beginning, it was mostly upperclassmen,” said Romero. “Now we have a ton of freshmen who are coming in. Our leadership board is upperclassmen, so they kind of function as mentors for these younger students and someone to sort of look out for them, like big brothers and sisters.”
Senior and club leader, Amanda Bates, has been apart of GSA from the beginning, and said that when she joined she knew nothing about the LGBT community.
I learned along with everyone else,” Bates said. “It was such a great experience, and getting to educate myself has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
As a leader, Bates is also a part of planning the club’s activities. GSA meetings always start with everyone sitting together in an open circle, but activities for each week vary. Some weeks club meetings are driven by group discussions on relevant issues led by a volunteer or open forums. Other weeks may be about influential LGBT people in history. Additionally, sometimes meetings include fun games. GSA leaders like to have a mix of team building and education while keeping a support group mentality.
“We have so many ideas,” explained Bates. “Seeing the smiles on people’s faces during meetings, and hearing about how we’ve made a difference in the lives of our members brings me too much joy to explain.”
In addition to participating the the homecoming parade this year, GSA leaders are also promoting the Fort Worth pride parade, on Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Fort Worth Water Gardens downtown. This is a safe place for anyone who may get overwhelmed by larger crowds at the Dallas Pride parade, which is Sunday, Sept. 16.
“It doesn’t matter [what] your political beliefs are, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, your gender identity,” said Romero. “The main purpose of GSA is to create a greater community, school community, to help us understand each other despite our differences and see our commonalities.”