A Step in the Right Direction

How student voices helped push for a safer environment for Alhambra High School


As we transition into a new era of acceptance and growth, one club at Alhambra High School hopes that their efforts will also help create a safe learning environment for both students and staff.

On Wednesday, February 1, the Gender-Sexuality Alliance Club, or simply GSA, was invited to the staff’s weekly meeting in order to present an educational slideshow on how the staff can help show their support for the school’s LGBTQ+ community. Presenters included GSA officer Quinn Webb (10) and GSA representatives Mars Kersey (10) and Maren Shahade (12); GSA officers Rianna Herrera (12) and Jaylen Preston (12) were also present to answer any questions. 

Following introductions, the presentation began by covering important terms such as “Gender Expression,” “Gender Identity,” and “Preferred Pronouns.” Presenter Maren Shahade then informed the staff of statistics on LGBTQ+ youth ranging from suicide rates to homelessness; a study by the organization GLSEN was also included that showed that 68% of queer students reported they felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Maren, who volunteers at Rainbow Community Center, also included an article written by the San Francisco Chronicle which features interviews from members of the community, including Maren themself. 

The presentation also included a review of how pronouns work, such as the proper way to refer to someone who uses multiple pronouns, as well as how neopronouns work. There was also a slide on how teachers and staff can go about asking for preferred names and pronouns. Since 2020, many LGBTQ+ groups and organizations have urged others to normalize asking and stating preferred pronouns in support of the transgender community. GSA presented various options such as creating Google Forms or slips of paper for students to give their information if comfortable. Quinn Webb, who was in charge of presenting these specific slides, urged teachers to also show their support by hanging up LGBTQ+ informative posters in their classrooms as well as being open to listening to their students’ experiences: “Knowing that someone is in your corner is very important.” 

Presenter Mars Kersey also discussed the importance of language and word choice in a classroom setting, offering alternatives for phrases to help students feel more comfortable. “You can substitute ‘she or he’ with the gender-neutral ‘they,’ and the phrase ‘born a girl/boy’ can be substituted with the terms AFAB, assigned female at birth, and AMAB, assigned male at birth.” Mars also offered ways on how teachers can handle queerphobia in a classroom setting, such as calling out the inappropriate language as well as listening to students when they report such incidents. 

The presentation concluded with a Q&A between the presenters and the staff, with plans for the slideshow to be shared with the entire staff so it can be referred to in the future.  

The GSA Club is a safe space for students of any background to feel welcomed and accepted by their community. Supervised by Alhambra’s Drama teacher, Mr. Wiener, and Alhambra’s Music and Stagecraft teacher, Mrs. Stafford, the GSA Club meets every Thursday during lunch to discuss how students can help better their community, play games, and help create change within the school. Though queerphobia is still present in everyday life, GSA’s efforts to push for change will hopefully lead Alhambra in the right direction and help form a safer environment for its students.