Written by Wesley Fink, Max Leonard, and Derek Dela Cruz
San Marin High School has issues when it comes to the treatment of it’s LGBT community. As a school, we like to think we’re a lot more progressive than some of our actions indicate. However, it is the small things, jokes between friends, sneers, and statements that can have negative consequences.
Jokes can have consequences. The taunts and small remarks build up and lead to larger repercussions. They can contribute to unintentional biases and beliefs about a group. Throughout our years at San Marin, we have witnessed countless small things that allude to a larger problem. These actions imply an unconscious association of same gender attraction, trans people, and gender nonconformity with negativity. San Marin, whilst being generally accepting towards LGBT people, has developed a “No Homo” culture. It has become commonplace for certain students to be hostile and vehemently deny accusations of being LGBT and for others to treat it like a joke.
Alongside these habits, there is a lack of representation in our curriculums. If San Marin wishes to diversify the narratives told, it is important to include LGBT stories and voices in that as well. In our English classes, there is a lack of explicitly LGBT characters; in our history classes, LGBT history is barely a footnote. Not giving a space for these stories is dangerous and prevents people from seeing a different perspective.
In order to help combat these aspects of our school and to help educate the San Marin community on LGBT matters, we have formed the San Marin Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club. The club acts as a successor to our school’s Gay Straight Alliance, which disbanded several years ago. The new name has been chosen to be more inclusive. Our goal is to create a safe place for LGBT students, educate our members on the LGBT community and history, and actively spread the values of the community. We want to help make a more LGBT inclusive and accepting atmosphere at San Marin, and forming an affinity group that also accepts its allies is the first step.
The club’s meetings vary in topic. There are regular discussions of LGBT subject matter, ranging from terminology to common stereotypes. We also have presentations about LGBT history to compensate for the lack of the subject in the current curriculum. These presentations discuss noteworthy LGBT individuals, the decades long fight for legalized same sex marriage, etc.
In addition, we work on outreach and activism efforts, reaching out to the student body as well as the larger community. Over the summer, we worked closely with our Novato High School counterpart, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) club, in order to form Novato Teen Pride, a collaborative group that works outside of the schools and more with the general public. Novato Teen Pride aims to give LGBT youth a voice and to foster a community that is more tolerant of LGBT topics and people.
As we look towards the future, we are working on several projects to engage with both the San Marin and broader Novato community. One of these is a speaker event planned later this year where teens will be able listen to the stories of LGBT adults and ask them questions. The goal is to introduce students to the world of LGBT activism and to give students the opportunity to learn about the lives of LGBT adults. Confirmed speakers include an LGBT programmer for Apple, Austin Wondolowski, and the Treasurer of San Francisco Pride, Suzzane Ford.
Our most ambitious goal is to create Marin County’s first pride parade in Novato for June 2021. This would be not only a historic first for our county, but also a signal of true acceptance for the LGBT community. This event would showcase Novato’s diversity and exhibit the voices and importance of the community.
Other plans include an informative trip to San Francisco’s GLBT Museum, organizing engaging fundraisers, and getting pamphlets placed in the counseling office with information about LGBT subject matter. Above all, we hope to create a more open and accepting culture both here on campus and in the broader Novato community. We want to give LGBT students a place to express themselves free of discrimination.
If you’re interested in joining the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, we meet every Tuesday at 3:30pm over Zoom. For more information, follow our Instagram @smhs.gsa or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image Courtesy of the San Marin Gender Sexuality Alliance Club