Kiley Fray also contributed to the writing.
On November 18th, the Salemwood Middle School had their first Gender Alliance Club meeting. During this meeting specifically, the members discussed what it meant to be an ally of the club.
The club meets every other week on Mondays. The advisors of the club are current teachers, Jason Asciola and Melissa Tse. Asciola had already been the advisor before for the Gender Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Malden High School, where he used to work.
The Gender Alliance Club took nearly four years to prepare for and actually create.
The old principal of Salemwood School, Abdel Sepulveda, sent many teachers to a training program on how to start a Gender Alliance Club in schools and how to do that for the Kindergarten through eighth grade levels.
When asked what motivated Asciola to make the club, he said that he is “a gay man and [he knows] that it is very important for students to see people in their world and represent themselves. Whether that be their race, their religion, their gender or their sexuality.”
This club is a great way for students to make connections to adults in the building who are allies or are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. It is also a resource for students to recognize each other.
Asciola added that he wished “people knew [that] you do not have to be a member of the community itself in order to be a part of the club. [He wishes] people would join to support the cause. Not necessarily just because of their sexuality.” Another thing he noticed was that the Salemwood has “the same issue as the high school. There does not seem to be as many males who join the group, which is something [he wishes] to promote a little bit more.”
From the point of view of three eighth graders, being a part of the Salemwood Gender Alliance Club feels welcoming. They all feel like there is finally somewhere where they fit into and belong in.
According to Ben, the club feels “a lot safer than the entire grade because the grade has multiple opinions and a lot of hatred towards topics related to LGBTQ+.” Mac added that “it is nice to have a little safe haven where people who are LGBT or allies go and make you feel better about something that usually is not accepted by society.”
Every person who goes to the club feels very accepted as soon as they enter. The club allows people who are a part of it, to talk about the things they are not necessarily comfortable sharing with the entire school. The whole point is to feel supported when you are there.
In other meetings, the members and staff will talk about the different meanings behind gender. Such as, gender roles, gender representation, and what gender is.
Meanwhile, at the Ferryway School in Malden they have worked to create a Gay/Straight Alliance Club (GSA) consisting of seventh and eighth grade students that meet every other Friday during school hours. They use this time to talk about problems they face as well as solutions to make their school a better place.
Since the GSA has been introduced Brenna, a member of the GSA, believes “it has opened people's minds.” Charlie adds “that it has helped a lot in the Ferryway community.” The environment in Ferryway’s GSA “allows us to feel safe and open.” The students are able to express how they feel without the fear of “rumors” or “lies” to be spread about them.
Although Brenna and Charlie will be leaving the Ferryway next year they “hope” that the GSA will stay and expand.