Burlington Times News story on 2/6/2012
By Maddie Lee Times-News correspondent firstname.lastname@example.org
Williams High School in Burlington is now officially home to the only Gay/Straight Alliance (G.S.A.) organization in the Alamance-Burlington school system.
The G.S.A. is a club that promotes tolerance and equality among the student population. Their goal is to educate students on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) issues and what it really means to be this way.
The group raises money for gay rights organizations, hold vigils and has days of silence for those brave enough to speak out. But the G.S.A’s main goal is to bring everyone together, gay and straight, to a safe haven where everyone is equal and there is no judgment or bullying of any kind.
“(Williams is) a high school, so there’s enough bullying going around. Our goal is to ‘pave the way’ for acceptance and equality,” said senior Miranda Teran, one of the founders of Williams’ G.S.A., along with fellow seniors Yerson Padilla and Tambra Parsons.
According to Padilla, there were more than 100 people at the first meeting and 60 at the next. But despite the amazing turnout, the founders also said that starting the new organization has been a challenge.
“Everyone calls it the ‘gay club’ or the ‘fruit club,’ ” Teran said.
“There were rumors of a petition to end the club, but that would’ve been illegal,” Parsons added.
The founders have been trying to start this organization for more than a year and have finally achieved their goal.
When asked if the G.S.A. has been achieving the sense of friendship and equality they hoped for, Parsons said “the environment (at the meetings) feels friendly and everyone feels like they can talk to each other.”
The founders wanted to send a message to youth in the community.
“To the bullied, it gets better,” Teran said.
“In ninth and tenth grade, I was bullied a lot. I always let it get to me, but, because of my support system, I got through it. The G.S.A. is everyone else’s support system,” Padilla said.
To those who want to start a G.S.A., Parsons added, “gather a supportive group of people for a foundation.”
Williams’ G.S.A. meets every Wednesday in the school’s annex building, Room 104, after school. Adviser is Justin Seifts.
“This is a gay/straight alliance. Anyone can join. This is a judgment-free zone. We will love you and accept you,” Padilla said.
Maddie Lee is a senior at Williams High School and a Teens & Twenties writer.