Niles North Teens Come Out, Speak Up

Group says being identified with a sexual orientation is hardly the goal of a school-sponsored group.

In a classroom after the day’s final bell rung, a cozy gathering of five students plus a faculty advisor convened like any other student organization or club.

Before her fellow members filed in, group leader Rachel Burton began listing on an easel everything necessary to stock the group’s upcoming “movie night.” There was no hint of the emphasis of the club’s existence. And that’s the way the members want it.

The school’s Gay-Straight Alliance was in session, but few of the members announce their sexual orientation. For good reason – that is only a part of each student’s personality, not his or her abiding identification, they said.

“We’re trying to bring people together,” said Burton.

Regular teenage activities the main focus

“Our goal is be more aware, more aware of life, people that are gay and bi-sexual. They function the same exact same way as we do,” said Aliza Malyani, a member of the GSA.  

“Our meetings basically run like any other club meetings. We have business, and then we hang out. We plan parties. And we plan events,” Malyani said. “We randomly plan pizza parties."

Burton drew upon her own ethnic background as reason for avoiding labeling as a prime identity, as organization members socialize and, in turn, deal with the greater school population.

“It depends what circle of friends you’re talking about,” she said. “If (in one circle) you’re gay or straight or bi or trans (gender), it’s kind of a big deal. There are circles I know where it’s a non-issue."

Burton added, “One of the reasons I got involved in GSA, and it sounds like a convoluted reason, I’m Chinese and Cuban and Jewish," she said. "That’s kind of uncommon, doing that labeling thing can be kind of annoying. I’ve had people say, ‘You can’t be Jewish … you’re Asian. Are you a Jew-Asian person?’ I don’t think any part of those three ethnicities define me as a person. It’s a shame where people are thrust into having a single identity. People are complex.”

Within and outside the GSA – once called the Gender and Sexuality Acceptance Group – there is progress toward acceptance of a different sexual orientation. But attitudes still have a ways to go for the end of epithets and discrimination, and the lifting of emotional burdens of students who are deemed “different” than the majority, the group said.

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Joe November 15, 2011 at 01:39 PM
If a bunch of straight people said the wanted to form a straight people club the media would lynch them- all this "alliance" focus does is provide a forum for a bunch of brats that want attention- enough of the BS pride already - how about a pride club for being American and honor the fact the reason you can even have your BS club is because this is a free country. It is such a shame the G's and the Lzbo's and Bi's all have to feel special with a club - a solid portion of kids in high school don't have a first clue about these matters fundamentally- all this does is allow NURTURE of a mindset that society says it's ok for a kid to act out with this BS behavior. What happened to sports and music clubs and why does our tax dollars have to go towards this crap?!
Joe Asaro November 22, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Hey, Joe I hear what you are saying, so here is the answer: Part of an education at any level is to teach people about others and their differences. The assumption being, if we understand others, we might be a better society. No one says that you must love everybody, but at least understand who they are. Adolescence is a good stage to start. No one person benefits from hate, prejudice or bias, and above all, society does not either.
Nobody You Know November 22, 2011 at 07:38 PM
They ought to have somewhere to feel special with all the prejudice they face in the rest of the world.  Larry King was 13 when he was shot and killed at school by a 12-year-old student who hated him -- all because Larry carried a purse, which was nobody's business but his own.  His parents lost their son.  There are kids who've been told that it's so wrong to be gay that they have killed themselves to avoid being outed, or to keep from being called gay.  There is so much hatred and bullying across the nation, and hate leads to death.  It meant death for African Americans (who didn't ask to be brought here in the first place) who were lynched.  Hate caused the Nazis to kill millions of Jews and others.  There is no reason on Earth that any person should be made to feel like it's so wrong to be him or herself that suicide seems the only option, and NOBODY should be so filled with hate that he or she can take another life, but it happens, and it needs to stop. Niles North also has a Black Student Union, a Latino/a club, and an Indo-Pak club.  We don't need clubs for the acceptance of heterosexual Caucasians; in our society, straight and white is already considered the norm.
Nobody You Know November 22, 2011 at 07:43 PM
*The shouldn't even have to feel special; they should just be able to feel the way everyone else is allowed to feel. Also, to Mr. Asaro, fine points and wonderful post.
Ryan December 14, 2012 at 02:21 AM
More of society does accept homosexuality than even 4 years ago. The GSA is more for comforting homosexuals than making them feel special. There is more to high school and the world than just sports and music. Sounds like you want attention, so here you go. You have earned my negative attention.


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