GSA begins year promoting community and safety

Gus Dexheimer, Co-Editor In-Chief

The Ann Richards GSA, or Gay Straight Alliance, took off this Monday, holding their first meeting of the year in the Bio Room. After two years of minor activity, they’ve started the 2014-2015 season with big aspirations and an addition to the sponsor list, Kim Collins.

“I would just like to see them become more involved and getting in contact with the other schools, and doing activities with the other schools,” said Collins, a new Ann Richards staff member who teaches Algebra. “Sometimes, with us being all girls, we might get a little isolated from all of the issues–we focus on us. So we want to make sure we focus on all of the issues for the LGBTQ community and see what we can do to make a difference.”

Collins says that she’s here to facilitate, to help make connections, and to help students get things done. And co-presidents Kyrie Bouressa and Patricia Mallard-Vicuna have quite a few things on the agenda.

“We’ve been talking about doing a newsletter kind of thing that would be biweekly, sending out stuff going on in the community, in our school, in Austin, stuff going on in Texas, stuff going on in The United States, or even just the world because there’s a lot of people out there who are imprisoned or killed because they are gay, or have family members that are gay,” said Bouressa.

Cough, cough, Russia, cough, cough,” added Mallard.

The presidents also say they plan to bring in speakers from the LGBTQ community and host movie nights, potentially alongside Amnesty International, another ARS club. Most importantly, they say they aim to provide welcoming safety to all students.

“If you have a school where people can’t get together and express their feelings, you worry…We need to come with ideas and things for the school to do, but to help people cope with what’s going on,” said Mallard.

Helping students cope is a central purpose of the GSA–LGBTQ rights and awareness.

“It’s just rights,” said Bouressa.  “The world is not a friendly place to new things, and it’s just been brushed under the carpet until now, which it really shouldn’t be.”

And advocating for these rights at the all-female Ann Richards School provides a unique situation for GSA members, presidents, and sponsors.

“One of the things that comes up is, ‘Oh you go to Ann Richards, that’s full of lesbians, right?'” says Bouressa. “And people are very ashamed of that, very like, ‘No, oh my God!’ Very defensive. And then when you are gay and happen to be at Ann Richards, it’s just this complete fiasco. So I think the best thing to do is to make it in such a way that when people are like, ‘Oh My God, you go to Ann Richards? You must be a lesbian.’  you’re like, ‘No. Sorry. Are you?'”

Above all, GSA members and Collins make it clear that what drives their organization is the belief in simple human rights and equality.

“I just think that it’s 2014 and equality…honestly we really shouldn’t even have to think about it,” said Chloe Levy, sophomore and GSA member. “But we do have to think about it…and it’s really important that we create a space that’s safe for anyone at the school if they need it.”