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NAHS Students Debate Formation of Gay-Straight Alliance

† † † † † So what exactly is the Gay-Straight Alliance, anyway? Sadly enough, many people seem to have the rather distorted notion that this is a place where gay and lesbian students come and talk about being gay while recruiting others to this "lifestyle." Not true. We do not recruit. We are not a "gay" group. Many people seem to be forgetting the straight component. We do not even discuss the sexuality of group members, and we do not attempt to change what other people think.
† † † † † What we are is a group of people who are sick of seeing classmates being harassed for even being perceived to be gay, people using offensive language without knowing what it means, and people being prejudiced and even fearful of other people they know nothing about. Our real enemies are not homophobia, as these people are entitled to their beliefs just as much as we are, but homo-ignorance and harassment. All we ask is that people allow us to present them with hard facts. If, after hearing proven information, people still choose to believe that homosexuality is wrong, then that is their right and we respect their opinion.
† † † † † A conflict arises when people who condemn homosexuality start harassing those they perceive to be gay. This is a violation of the personís rights, and is tolerated by neither school nor state. There is in fact a law, Chapter 75, section 5, of the Massachusetts General Laws, which expressly states that "no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining advantages, privileges and courses of studies of such public school on account of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation."
† † † † † The North Andover Gay-Straight Alliance tries to work against discrimination and toward tolerance through education. By education, we mean providing accurate, up-to-date information on current events, studies, and issues on an optional basis. Thatís right - optional. We are not forcing anything upon anyone, much less converting them to our point of view.
† † † † † Another fantastic notion is the myth that we are advocating "risky behavior." Whiles peopleís personal actions are beyond our control, advocating risky behavior is the last thing you will find our group doing. The group tries to stay away from peopleís decisions concerning sexual activity, leaving that to the person and their family, religion, etc. To lead a promiscuous lifestyle is certainly not something that would be encouraged by the group.
† † † † † As for the survey, it, too, is completely optional and anonymous, The questions on the survey are not leading and merely inquire about peopleís knowledge and attitudes concerning gay-related issues. There are no questions concerning studentsí individual sexuality. The only purpose id determine areas in which students tend to be ignorant, in the hope that we may provide them with information to make better informed decisions, whatever the end result may be. Anyone who does not fell comfortable answering the questions is not required to participate.
† † † † † What everything comes down to is that all we ask is for the right to have our group, and for every student at North Andover High School to make aware decisions and be able to go to school every day without fear of being harassed for their true or perceived sexual orientation. If anyone is not comfortable with the information we present to them, they may refuse it and their rights will be respected. We simply ask that ours be respected, too.