GSA aims for acceptance

"Our main goal is to create a safe environment for every single student in Blue Springs High School, in any classroom, in a club or activity, in the hallway, and for everyone to be safe and everyone to be accepting.” -GSA Sponsor Aleana Balistreri

Cameron Stewart

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The Gender and Sexuality Alliance, or GSA, is an organization dedicated to promoting the acceptance and normalization of LGBT+ students. GSA provides a safe space for everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexuality. English teacher Aleana Balistreri is the sponsor behind GSA and she is eager to get the word out about the organization.

“Our main goal is to create a safe environment for every single student in Blue Springs High School, in any classroom, in a club or activity, in the hallway, and for everyone to be safe and everyone to be accepting,” Balistreri said.

GSA is intended as a safe haven for students and a rallying point for those who wish to support the community at large. Beyond just providing fellowship, GSA also hosts yearly fundraisers that go towards improving the lives of LGBT+ kids.

“We have a couple [activities] that we’ve done as traditions now,” Balistreri said. “We have a bake sale in the spring and typically we raise money for KC Passages.”

KC Passages, an organization that helps LGBT+ kids who are in poverty, has dedicated itself to providing young people with resources.

“Last year, we donated five hundred dollars,” Balistreri said. “I was really proud of the kids.”

But the impact of GSA doesn’t stop with the Kansas City area. The entire country has become more aware of issues surrounding LGBT+ youth and GSA is now a national organization. Balistreri is excited to continue to spread awareness.

“We also try to align whatever we do with the national GSA,” Balistreri said, “so that’s just kind of dependent on what we can do: sell stickers, raise awareness.”

While fundraising is important, at its heart GSA mainly provides a place for every student to feel safe and accepted.

“[Students] can come in here and feel welcome and just be themselves,” Balistreri said. “They can meet lots of new friends. I want everyone to feel comfortable. If they just need a resource or someone to talk to, hopefully they can find that in GSA,”

Coming together as a community is what GSA is all about.

“Really, it’s mostly about fellowship when we meet,” said Balistreri. “Another tradition is that we always hold a big Christmas party.”

GSA, just by its very nature, is not the type of club to function solo, cut off from the other activities on campus. GSA is about bringing positive and representation to all aspects of school life.

“We try to work with other organizations on campus, book club is one of them, wildcats united,” said Balistreri, “And we’re trying to partner with the Earth club this year.”

GSA has had its first meeting and has begun to prepare or its yearly activities.

“Right now we’re doing t-shirt designs, sticker designs, and planning for the year ahead,” Balistreri said.

Balistreri has high hopes for GSA and hopes to see the club continue to grow in the coming years.

 “I would love to have more members,” Balistreri said, “I would love to include more activities. I would love to bring in guest speakers.”

GSA has expanded over the years since its creation and Balistreri is particularly impressed with the strong foundation provided by its senior leadership. Balistreri hopes that student involvement will continue to grow.

“It’s really a student led club, so I want them to take ownership and make it something that their really proud of,” Balistreri said.

GSA holds a meeting on the second Tuesday of every month. They also have more sporadic meetings throughout the year when they’re planning activities or fundraisers, such as the bake sale, so keep an eye out. GSA meets shift B in room 122.