North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

GSA makes queer, trans students feel welcome

GSA+has+long+been+a+fixture+in+the+Niles+North+extracurricular+scene%E2%80%93they+advertise+at+the+extracurriculars+fair+at+the+start+of+the+school+year%2C+and+walk+in+the+parade+of+clubs+during+the+Winter+Pep+Assembly.
Lily Howard
GSA has long been a fixture in the Niles North extracurricular scene–they advertise at the extracurriculars fair at the start of the school year, and walk in the parade of clubs during the Winter Pep Assembly.

The Gender Sexuality Acceptance club, or GSA, provides a haven for non-heterosexual and non-cisgender students at Niles North. The group meets every Tuesday at 3:30 PM in room 1685. It is sponsored by Alethea Busch and led by two presidents, but otherwise has no real leadership hierarchy.

Niles North is the proud home to a wide LGBTQIA+ community, and GSA is a place for those students, and anyone else who wants to support them, to meet. 

“It’s just a space where a lot of people who, even if they’re not out [openly queer or transgender] to their parents, to their friends, to people at school, it’s kind of a space for them to just be themselves, and not have to feel, ashamed about it,” says an anonymous Niles North junior and GSA member. “It’s just a space for people to be who they are.”

For queer and transgender Vikings, GSA is a place of peace and community. Queer and trans students can meet others with experiences akin to their own, in a place that welcomes all. 

“I love that everyone is supportive there,” junior Anushka Kapur said. “No one’s judgy, no one’s gonna ridicule you for wanting to express yourself or be yourself, which is very nice.”

GSA has long been a fixture in the Niles North extracurricular scene–they advertise at the extracurriculars fair at the start of the school year, and walk in the parade of clubs during the Winter Pep Assembly. The club also organized last year’s Queer Prom with the help of the Student Activities team. 

“It’s just a space for a bunch of queer kids to get together and hang out and meet each other and just feel safe,” said the anonymous junior. “Because sometimes people, if they have a fear of being discriminated against in actual prom or homecoming or the school dance, Queer Prom is a way for them to dress how they want and act as themselves and not feel pressure to conform to what others want them to [do]”. 

Queer Prom will return in April, this time at Niles West.

I love that everyone is supportive there. No one’s judgy, no one’s gonna ridicule you for wanting to express yourself or be yourself, which is very nice.”

— Anushka Kapur, junior

GSA shows support for the queer and trans community in more ways than one. In 2014, they sponsored the Day of Silence on Friday, April 11, to raise awareness of homo- and transphobic bullying. On a more personal level, club members sit down to talk with groupmates who might be struggling. 

As the anonymous junior explains, “If one person comes in with a problem, like, they’re having trouble coming out [revealing their gender or sexuality], or they’re not sure if they’re safe, we’ll sit down with them and talk…‘Okay, is it safe for you to come out? Is it safe for you to do this? Let’s go through the factors of, what could be stopping you from doing this’”.

Overall, GSA is supportive of queer and trans Vikings in a way that the rest of the school apparently is not. Niles North junior Kat brought up the school’s “…gendered Freshman PE classes, which I personally think, and a lot of our community at Niles North thinks, is outdated”. Anushka, for her part, finds a lack of space in regular classes to discuss her experiences as a queer student. “A lot of classes are just, do work, and then, do homework, that’s it. There’s not really a space to talk or interact”.

Until that changes, though, GSA will always be there for whoever needs a space to be who they are. Anyone who wants to join can simply appear at one of the group’s Tuesday meetings; attendees introduce themselves at every meeting and can come as often as they wish, so fitting into the club is entirely seamless. Feel free to pull up a chair and have a good time!

 

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About the Contributors
Reed Larson-Erf, Reporter
Reed Larson-Erf is a Junior at Niles North, joining North Star News for the first time this year. He enjoys reading, writing, watching Doctor Who and Arnold Schwartzenegger movies, and any chance he gets to make his friends laugh.
Lily Howard, People Editor & Features Editor
Lily is a sophomore at Niles North. She is in debate, Mock law trial, and has been in journalism since the beginning of freshman year.

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