GSA Club Aims to Keep Campus Welcoming and Inviting for All


Judy Scott

Senior Amelia Rains, Junior Maggie Prell, Junior Angela Hammett, Sophomore Robin Bernd, and Sophomore Ethan Hutchins (left to right, top to bottom) are all officers of UC High’s GSA Club.

Judy Scott and Jade Wood, Sports Editor and Staff Writer

University City High School offers an important and much needed club called Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA). The goal of these clubs on high school campuses is to create a safer, more inclusive campus for all students, and make all students feel as if they have a safe place to be and talk. GSA meets every Thursday in room 214, and all students are welcome if they want or need somewhere to feel comfortable and discuss issues important to the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

Club President Junior Clay Shaughnessy said, “The GSA hosts a lot of different activities ranging from presentations on queer history to field trips, to touring college campuses.” He added, “GSA to me means a community, a safe space on campus, a place where people can hopefully just be themselves and learn about what it means to be queer, your history, your rights and also to create a safer, more affirming environment for queer people.”

The club was refounded six years ago by UC High Class of 2021 Graduate Elaina Martin, Shaughnessy stated. “She founded it as an initial safe space on campus when there was a lot of homophobia and transphobia on campus and a lot of slurs and hate speech. It used to be a lot worse, like you couldn’t walk through a certain hallway during lunch because of it,” said Shaughnessy. Since GSA has been refounded, UC High’s campus has had a much more warm welcome to this community, a much needed feeling at school. Since this club has started up again, Shaughnessy believes that homophobia and transhopbia have decreased.

“According to the Trevor Project ‘LGBTQ youth who found their school to be LGBTQ-affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide.’ Its important to know that students can find a community and a trusted on campus,” said Kelsey Bradshaw.

GSA Secretary Senior Amelia Rains couldn’t agree more: “To me, GSA is a place where everyone can just be themselves and find acceptance. It’s also a great place to make friends and get involved with activism at school.” The club promotes the idea that school should never be a place where students or staff feel like they can’t be themselves or are judged; no matter their identity, people should feel accepted and tolerated.

Activism is a huge part of the club and one of their biggest goals for this year. “I really want to lean into the activism part and working towards something, getting people’s input, their perspective, their stories,” said Shaughnessy. He added, “Also, focusing on the education part, to learn about your history, and your rights. For queer individuals, to know what their rights are is a very empowering thing,” All students have to take history courses but they don’t necessarily get the chance to learn about the history of the LGBTQ+ community, so having a club to focus on activism and rights allows an opportunity to learn.

With June being pride month celebration is a must, “Our club president Clay Shaughnessy is going to speak at the school district raising of the Pride flag and we are going to be buying a Pride flag for here at school to be displayed”, said Bradshaw. What an honner to have a UC High student representing the school for the district.

Although UC High and its administration are very accepting of the club and the things they want to accomplish, prejudice from students is still present at the school. Rains stated, “In my freshman year, my friends and I were bullied, harassed, and called homophobic slurs for being involved in GSA. Thankfully, the admin handled the problem, but nowadays I feel like harassment is much more discreet and often goes unreported.” No one should have to experience discrimination for being who they are, and with the help of this club and administration, the club hopes to promote a discrimination-free campus.

“The goal of GSA clubs is not to become the safe space on campus but to ultimately make the campus into a safe space,” said Shaughnessy. Last year the club was able to create gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. They are located around the school in the 400 building hallway and by the sand volleyball courts.

Many involved in the club were introduced to GSA from middle school. “I got involved in GSA in middle school, but it was a super small club that I felt like I had to hide from people. GSA in high school feels much more open and accepting. I’m really proud to be involved in this club,” Rains said.

Providing a welcoming and inclusive environment, the GSA club has become a beacon of hope for UC High’s LGBTQ+ community and their allies. Aiming to create a united and friendly campus, these students have ambition for the future of UC High.