All over the nation there are organizations in school districts that are working to create safe havens within their communities where students can feel welcome and accepted. The Gay Straight Alliances that have been established in the U.S. are super important, and Shawano High is lucky to have such a great organization.
The GSA in Shawano was created about seven years ago by a social studies teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Pigeon, and a group of students. Mrs. Pigeon stated that the students and herself were prompted to create the club so there would be “a safe place here at school.”
Mrs. Pigeon wanted students to know that they are not different in a bad way, and that she, along many others, is someone to trust. She also explained how part of her curriculum in Minority Studies is to educate students on the differences in sexual orientation and gender, as well as discuss the topic. So, being the advisor of GSA was something that she easily fit into.
The club has grown a lot over the past couple of years, and more people are coming to realize that the GSA is an organization that anyone and everyone can participate in.
Mrs. Pigeon really enjoys advising the organization because of the genuine acceptance within the group of students who are involved. Even though there are students who come to meetings who are very self conscious or unsure of themselves and may decide not to join the club, the core body of students who take part in GSA are super accepting of everyone who comes along. Mrs Pigeon talked about how the members of GSA have become a little family.
This year has already been a great year for Shawano High’s GSA. They have some really great members, and the club was represented in the 2018 Winter Wonderland.
Every winter Shawano High has a formal dance called Winter Wonderland. Just like Homecoming, there is always a pep rally and a dance to get the students to show a little school spirit and have some fun after completing the first semester.
For the first time, two students from the GSA got to participate on the Winter Wonderland Court. Junior Verna Hassenfeldt and Freshman Skyler Young were the reps, and they both were ecstatic knowing that the organization is now going to be recognized in future years.
Every month, the members of GSA meet in Mrs. Pigeon’s room during resource to discuss things coming up within the organization as well as just socializing with each other.
One big event coming up for GSA is the Day of Silence on Friday, April 27. The day represents those who cannot speak out about who they really are or who do not see positive LGBTQ representation within their curriculum or communities.
The Day of Silence helps others understand what it is like to live as someone who feels they are constantly erased from their communities because of who they are. To participate, members of GSA at Shawano High will be silent all day and will communicate only through writing.
Many people find themselves feeling lost or without a safe place, but the GSA at Shawano High is working hard to ensure everyone that they have a place to go where they will always be accepted. Mrs. Pigeon hopes that the message from GSA rubs off on others by helping them tolerate people who may be gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender, and then someday accepting them for who they are.
The GSA at Shawano High is a place where everyone is welcome. Mrs. Pigeon and the members of Shawano’s GSA are always happy to see new faces at meetings and are more than willing to help anyone who feels like they are an outcast.
“You’re one person out there, and in here, you’re not,” stated Mrs. Pigeon.