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     The Gay-Straight Alliance is a student-run organization at the high school. We are fighting for equal treatment of gay students and for an end to the harassment they receive. We believe that everyone has the right to go to school without fear, no matter their sexual preference. The GSA is not advocating a gay lifestyle, only working to end the torture that students who are gay, or percieved to be gay, suffer each day. It makes us sick to think that a fellow classmate of ours is constantly being ridiculed to the point where he cannot make himself come to school. In a North Andover Citizen opinion article, Michael A. Jenike, M.D. wrote, "Why shouldn't gay individuals have the smae rights as others? If we take as an overriding principle that we should all strive to reduce suffering and disability in our fellow man, how can we argue with a program that aims to help us do just that."
     The GSA has recieved some resistance since it has been approved and instituted at the high school. Many arguements have arisen over whether this organization should exist. A group of citizens of North Andover and memebers of a local church wrote an angry letter to the local newspaper, giving their arguements about why the Gay-Straight Alliance should be banned from the North Andover High School.
     The leader of the this group of citizens, Ms. X, said, "I think homosexuality is an unhealthy lifestyle and shouldn't be taught. I don't think it should be shown to be an equal lifestyle." In saying this, Ms. X is saying that a homosexual lifestyle should not be allowed because she disagrees with it. If we disagree with the idea of a religion, can we ban that from the community? It is that same prejudice that led Hitler to killing so many Jews. "Hitler had his own intolerances, and we know how much trouble he caused when allowed to inflict his biases on others." (M. Jenike, M.D., North Andover Citizen,12/4/96) This is exactly the kind of behavior the Gay-Straight Alliance is working to end. We all agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when voicing that opinion makes others agonize over a simple issue like going to school, something has to be done.
     Ms. X also claimed in a Citizen quotation that she did not think that "this group is there to support each other, rather they are there to indoctrinate other students." This cannot be farther from the truth. We are not advocating a homosexual lifestyle, and even if that were our purpose, one cannot go around recruiting people to be gay. Homosexuality is not like drinking alcohol or smoking. It is not a choice one makes freely, or one can be pressured into making. As a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, M. Jenike overs his medical opinion: "I have never seen any evidence that gay people can choose whether or not to be gay any more than we can choose our race."
     Student Y and Student Z, two members of the student body of the high school also wrote an article for the local paper, saying that the school was not ready for a Gay-Straight Alliance. Acording to a Citizen quotation, Y and Z stated that "We are sure that with time, the student body will be able to freely accept this group, but at the present time, we are not fully-developed with the capability to grasp such a mature subject." (Citizen, 12/4/96)
     By this quotation, one can see a certain apprehension toward the GSA. We understand that many people fear the idea of homosexuality because they do not understand it. But Y and Z are missing the point of the GSA's existence in our school. I do not think teasing, prejudice, and harassment are ideas that are too mature for the student body. We have all dealt with that since our first exposure to new people back in preschool. If students realized that it was not homosexuality, rather acceptance, that we are promoting, they would have different feelings about the Gay-Straight Alliance.
     The final argument in favor of the Gay-Straight Alliance is that participation in, and anything associated with the organization, is completely voluntary. In a large school of about 800 people, it is easy enough to go through the year without ever having to deal with the GSA. We do not press our opinions on anyone who is unwilling to hear them. As we wrote for an article in the Dec. 4 edition of the Citizen: "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 percieved sexual orientation."