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New GSA club offers support, acceptance for LGBT students

GSAlogoBy Claudia Guerra

Ana Chavez was a high school sophomore in San Antonio when she and her group of friends first experienced the pain of being bullied by their classmates.
Chavez and her friends were no different than any other clique at their school, except for one thing: They were attracted to people of the same sex.
Classmates began isolating Chavez’s small group of friends. Suddenly, they were the kids no one wanted to talk to.
Chavez said she lost one good friend because her friend’s boyfriend didn’t like them talking.
“He would tell her ‘I don’t want you to get too close to them because you might end up with them,’” Chavez recalled. “It’s like he was unsure about himself.”
The constant ridicule from others became too much. Soon, Chavez’s friends began to transfer to other schools or drop out.
With most of her friends gone, Chavez joined the Gay-Straight Alliance club at her high school. She found comfort in a club where everyone around her could relate to each other on some level with her.
After high school, Chavez moved to Dallas and began attending Eastfield. She was shocked to find out the campus didn’t have a GSA club. Then, in the fall of 2012, Chavez met Cecilia Mendoza.
Mendoza wanted to start a GSA club at Eastfield, and she asked English professors Amber Pagel and Kassandra Buck to advise the club. The group suffered an early setback, but the club became official this semester.
“We tried last semester as far as getting it going, but they started too late,” Pagel said. “So they reorganized, got some new members and officers, and got it rolling this semester.”
The new GSA president, Josh Martinez, said the club is more than just a social opportunity for students. It’s a place were they can go to find guidance and support.
“Obviously, it’s Gay-Straight Alliance, but we don’t focus on the gay,” Martinez said. “The purpose of the club is to promote safety on and around campus.”
Chavez wants students to see GSA as a place where friendships can develop and grow and where they can feel safe and accepted.
“The club itself is to show people, ‘Hey, it’s a comfortable [environment], and everyone around you has the same problem,’” Chavez said. “I want to make everyone feel comfortable and to give them a better feel of GSA. We are here to help anyone out with any situation.”
Buck said the enthusiasm of club members has been fantastic.
More than 20 students attended the first meeting, and many came with ideas that are going to be put into action this semester.
The club will participate in a Love of the Lake service-learning project on April 13. The group will meet at Another Broken Egg Café for breakfast at 8 a.m. before they head to White Rock Lake at 9 a.m.
The club has also invited North Texas regional GSA representative and activist A.J. Guerrero to speak to the club.
The GSA club meets every other Wednesday. The next club meeting will be April 10 at 2:30 p.m. in C-142.
Students interested in joining the club can go by the Student Life office or email club president Josh Martinez at [email protected].

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