Gay-Straight Alliance pushes for tolerance and acceptance

Ellie Winer

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Ellie Winer and Katie Dwyer

The Gay Straight Alliance focuses on making Grady an accepting environment for people of all sexualities.

When junior Isaiah Ramsby started attending Grady last year, he was excited at the prospect of a large LGBTQIA+ community and a Gay-Straight Alliance that worked alongside it. However, when he started at Grady, he realized there wasn’t such a club. Ramsby decided to start one himself, alongside junior Gabby Merit. He wanted to make Grady a better place for people of all identities, and make sure they experienced minimal judgment “but rather advice and help.”
Even though he identifies as a gay male, Ramsby believes that regardless of his identity, he would’ve started a club like this, with the goal to help people. 
“I saw that a lot of the LGBTQIA+ people that I came across had a problem accepting themselves or problems with depression or [felt they] didn’t have a place to belong,” Ramsby said. “I wanted to make a completely safe space for people to come and talk about what’s on their mind and what’s bothering them.”
He notices and experiences excessive discrimination towards members of the LGBTQIA+ community at Grady, despite its left-leaning reputation. Many other gay male students have told him of the outward homophobia they have experienced. He wants to bring students together to discuss these issues, even by bringing students in who hold homophobic beliefs. 
Merit shared similar experiences as a bisexual female, which motivated her to help start the club. She wishes she had an organization like the GSA as a support system when she was a freshman, struggling with her identity.
“[Our] administration will jump at the sign of a torso or a hat on someone’s head but do absolutely nothing when it comes to these kids getting bullied, harassed and made fun of for just being a part of this community,” Merit said. “I wanted to create a safe space to be able to come to and have everybody feel comfortable and be able to talk about their issues.”
When they began GSA, with teachers Krissi Davis and Chris Wharton as the sponsors, Merit and Ramsby were surprised by how easy it was to get people to join and by the eagerness of their peers. 
“It actually blew my mind how many people were willing to join the first meeting; they were there before I even got there to start setting up,” Ramsby said. “It was surprising … but it was great.”
The Gay-Straight Alliance meets every Tuesday. Merit and Ramsby lead the meetings, in which they choose a topic and pose questions to the group. They usually create a PowerPoint and moderate topics. It typically ends with a group discussion, where advice and personal experiences are shared. Currently, they have very specific goals. 
“My goal for GSA right now is to help the transgender people at Grady that I know of feel more comfortable with dressing and acting how they feel, [and to] fit without being attacked by other students or treated differently by staff simply because they are living the way they see most fit for them,” said Ramsby. 
While this is a short-term goal, the alliance’s objective is to create a safe space and resolve on-going issues involving the LGBT+ community at Grady. 
“As a leader of the organization, I want to be able to carry out the goal of GSA as thorough as possible and make sure this program lasts further than my time at Grady,” Merit said.