Gay-Straight Alliance gains force on campus

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In an orientation meeting last Friday, the Gay-Straight Alliance discussed their plans and possible events for the semester among an encouraging number of new members.

The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is reforming for the first time this semester after a year-long hiatus, according to A.J. Bates, one of the club’s two faculty coordinators. According to Bates, the club didn’t have the numbers to be effective anymore starting the fall of 2007, after a great many of the active members graduated.

“[The active members] moved on to other schools, and so we tried to build our membership, but we just didn’t have enough regular interest,” Bates said in an interview on Friday after the GSA’s meeting. “We would have four or five people show up for every meeting, but it wasn’t necessarily the same people…it was hard to keep an active group going, so we just sort of stopped meeting.”

Interest in the club grew again last spring when the San Mateo Health Department asked Skyline’s GSA to sponsor an STD testing and health “outreach” to the community. The event gathered enough support that there was a real interest in reforming the club, as several students approached Bates to ask him to re-sponsor the club this year.

Among the students is Glenn Outiveros, who say he plans on taking a very active role in the club’s meeting. Outiveros believes the club is extremely important for college-level students who are or may be gay or lesbian.

“It’s necessary to have that safe shelter for people to go to and just feel comfortable being themselves and talking about whatever,” Outiveros said.

Outiveros, who is in his first semester at Skyline, has already become a prominent member of the GSA, and played a large role in getting the club on its feet and running again this year.

The room the meeting was held in was filled with students on Friday, giving a strong indication of a good year for the GSA.

“Today’s meeting was definitely the biggest turnout that we’ve had for any regular GSA meeting,” Bates said. “It’s very encouraging to see so many people excited.”

According to Bates, there were 32 names on the sign-in sheet alone, and he suspects that there were actually more students there than those who signed in.

However, not every student is as enthusiastic about the re-formed GSA.

“I’m not really a club person,” said Alison Aylsworth when asked about her interest in the GSA. She is positive and supportive of the members, but among other things she doesn’t have the time to be an active member herself. “I was involved in the GSA my freshman year in high school,” Aylsworth said, “but it was more of a social thing than an active club.”

Skyline’s GSA, however, plans to be far from inactive this semester.

“I’m hoping this semester we’re able to plan a handful of very specific activities to get everyone involved in, so that we can continue to have consistent and very active members,” Bates said.

The GSA also hopes to sponsor larger activist events, possibly around the election, such as a voter registration drive and information packets about bills like Proposition 8, a bill that would remove the right of same-sex couples to marry which was recently granted by the state.

With the strongest initial turnout in the club’s history, as well as a new interest, fresh energy, and several events lined up already, many members are anxious to see how the club will grows.

“I’m just really excited for this whole school year to see what’s going to come out of it,” Outiveros said. “It seems like a really friendly group of people, and everybody’s outgoing. Everybody’s welcome.”