Where Are The Graphics?

Home | Resources | Calendar | Receive Announcements | Submit a Resource | Advertise on this Site!
Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Evansville gets Gay-Straight Alliance

[MADISON, WI] - B.J. Warren, a senior at Evansville High School, often felt isolated and afraid of letting his classmates know he's gay.

Last year, when he "came out" by bringing his boyfriend to the homecoming dance, the weight of silence was lifted off his shoulders, he said.

"It's a lot easier to walk into a school knowing you're out and not having to worry about it," Warren said.

"I know what I felt (before), and I didn't want other students to go through that," he said.

This month, the Evansville School Board unanimously approved Warren's proposal to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at the high school.

The group's mission is to create a safe and supportive environment for gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning students, as well as students and adult allies of the community, through coordinated programming and educational activities.

The Evansville group is one of three such alliances in Rock County. Both Janesville high schools, Parker and Craig, also have the groups.

Gay-straight alliance groups have been forming in Wisconsin high schools since the mid-1990s when the first organizations were created at Madison West, Middleton and Oregon high schools, Jason Rasmussen, executive director of the south central Wisconsin chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), said.

GLSEN provides information to people interested in starting alliances and works to educate teachers, students and the public on bringing an end to homophobia.

There are about 50 GSA groups in high schools throughout the state and 25 in the south-central part of the state, Rasmussen said.

Although the number of groups has doubled over the last two years, such alliances typically have a harder time getting approval from school boards in smaller rural towns like Evansville, Rasmussen said.

Students at Neenah High School recently won School Board approval for a gay-straight alliance after the school principal and district superintendent denied recognition of the group.

The student group had enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union and was considering suing the district if their appeal of the superintendent's decision was denied.

Wisconsin's pupil nondiscrimination laws give gay-straight alliances the same rights as any student organizations, including being able to hold functions on school property, having an adviser paid for by the school district and having their group photo in the yearbook, Rasmussen said.

Most students at Evansville High School have been supportive of the alliance group, said Principal Dick Feutz.

Dan Cobb, the unpaid faculty adviser for the Evansville group, credits Warren with getting the organization off the ground. "It's a bold step for a kid to take at that age," Cobb said. "It's very progressive for Evansville to accept this."

Check out this House About Our News Feed | Get Our News Feed (XML)
Search Google
Search Google |