Local Gay-Straight Alliance Network clubs to host summit | TheUnion.com

Local Gay-Straight Alliance Network clubs to host summit

Bitney College Prep students front row left to right are: Stendo Ellis-Lavigne, Gabriella Fromm, back row Zack Davis, James Marquard, Cyrus Manjarrez, Jacob Arnold, Samantha Limoncello, and Emma Anderson.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union


What: GSA Summit

Where: Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains, 246 South Church St., Grass Valley

When: Jan. 24


10:30 a.m. — Registration (PFLAG)

11 a.m. — Meet & Greet & Lunch (ALL)

Noon — GSA Network Workshops: How to Have a Kick Ass GSA (1.5 hrs)

1:30 p.m. — Fight for Your Rights (1 hr)

2:30 p.m. — Afternoon Break

3 p.m. — Community Organizing 101 (1 hr)

4 p.m. — PFLAG: Community Conversation

5 p.m. — Close (PFLAG)

Though Gay-Straight Alliance Network clubs have taken large strides towards greater acceptance in public high schools, there is still much growing to be done.

The local chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), an organization that is committed to the advancement of equality for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) people, has decided to help the clubs from Nevada Union, Bitney College Prep, Bear River, and Park Avenue schools become better connected with one another by hosting a GSA summit at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains on Jan. 24.

Pat Rose, one of the key contributors to the summit idea, says there were a myriad of reasons why they decided to organize the event.

“It was a compilation of a number of things. I’ve taken youth from here to the (GSA) summit in Sacramento in the past. It was very difficult, because the parents didn’t like the idea that the youth were going out of the area. So myself and a couple others were trying to figure out what it is that we could do here to help get our youth educated, in terms of having a GSA club at our high schools,” Rose said.

“The only thing we could think of was the possibility of trying to partner with the GSA Network out of San Francisco. I was the one that made the call, but it was our group that decided that this would be a good thing to try and do if the GSA network would be willing to do that.

“When I spoke with them, they said they hadn’t tried to do it in the past, but they were willing to see if doing it now was possible,” Rose said. “As it turned out, they decided this would be something they wanted to try.”

With the support of the GSA Network, PFLAG began work on making the summit a reality. It took two years, says Rose, as the group needed to overcome multiple obstacles to get their idea up and running. But the idea is now a fully fleshed out day of seminars.

The day will begin with a meet and greet with lunch catered by Summer Thyme’s Bakery and Deli at 11 a.m.

“At noon is the first actual workshop, called ‘How to Have a Kick Ass GSA.’ It will give kids insight on what they should focus on with the club. We encourage them to not only focus on gay issues, but also inequality issues,” explained Rose. “Because, when you really get down to the very bottom of it, what we really want these kids to come away with is how to respect each other no matter who they are, what their orientation is, or what their ethnicity is. We want them to just be able to get along and teach that to the other students in the schools where they are attending.”

Other workshops will focus on fighting for civil rights and community organizing. Members of NEO will also come by to discuss ways that they can collaborate with the GSA clubs, Rose says.

Ultimately, she hopes that the four local GSA clubs can come together and network in an effort to make all of them stronger collectively.

“How can we connect the clubs from different schools? What is it that we can help them with in order to stay connected? Let’s say one school might want to do a movie night, then it would be nice if the other students from the three other schools could be invited and possibly attend,” she said.

“I hope they are rejuvenated a little bit in terms of making their clubs extremely functional. I would like them to come away with organizational skills (and) I would like them to come away with excitement about connecting with other youth from the other schools.

“We know that LGBT youth have a more difficult time because of the fear of rejection and having so much prejudice against the gay community,” she added. “We want these kids to become more comfortable with who they are, and that happens through having a club … We’re really excited that these kids are doing projects that make a difference in people’s lives.”

If you are interested in attending the event, you can register at https://www.gsanetwork.org/nevada-county-summit-2015; the deadline to register is Sunday.

Spencer Kellar is a freelance writer. He can be reached at spencerkellar@gmail.com.

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