The Gay-Straight Alliance Strives to Open Minds

GSA members Allie Barbone and Matt Stokes attended the Gay Pride parade in Atlanta.

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GSA members Allie Barbone and Matt Stokes attended the Gay Pride parade in Atlanta.

As the world continues to progress and change, more people have come to terms with their sexual orientation and have developed a proud openness about their true identity. North Atlanta’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is a club that openly accepts everyone and club members are hard at work to create a better, more accepting school environment for everyone.

Senior Matt Stokes, GSA club organizer and president, is very passionate about the mission behind the club. “We were inspired by a need to increase happiness, acceptance, and open-mindedness until it is all-encompassing here at our school,” said Stokes, “It’s exciting and exceptionally amazing to see people express themselves without feeling as alone, oppressed, or self-conscious as they would’ve been in a similar situation 50 years before.”

Club activities thus far have ranged from tie-dying parties to watching LGBTQ short films. “GSA is primarily a social support group, so basically we just have a lot of fun,” said Stokes

As for the ultimate goal of the club? There are so many, all with the intent of helping and growing the acceptance and bonding of the students in the school. “Really, you can accomplish anything when you have a group of opened-minded, sweet, and intelligent people,” said Stokes, “When you feel different, isolated, and ultimately unhappy, there is nothing better than walking into a room that celebrates your difference rather than condemns it.”

A freshman newcomer Elliana Hau has nothing but praise for GSA. She said she originally joined the club to support friends. “But I’ve learned a lot about diversity and how others want to be treated,” she said.

For her, GSA has been a place to develop strong bonds of friendship. “It’s a good place to make new friends and everyone is super welcoming and nice,” she said.

The Gay Straight Alliance Club seeks to help kids feel more accepted in school and be more confident about themselves. “As someone who was fortunate enough to have the best group of supportive friends during my time in high school, I know the difference that love can make in any situation,” said Stokes.

The club adviser is world languages teacher Phillipe Maury. The longtime North Atlanta French teacher said he’s inspired to see the supportive community being developed among club members. “It’s the freedom for the students to be themselves that makes the club so interesting. And it’s wonderful to see all four grade levels interacting and becoming friends,” he said.

The clubs meets in room 10113 on Mondays after school and welcomes students of any identity, sexuality or hair color.