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Editorial: Academy Should Strive to be a Welcoming Place for All its Students

On Wednesday December 3rd, Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), with the help of Dr. Broh, announced its plans for the school’s first “affinity time.” This will be a private meeting for LGBTQ students to discuss their lives and place within the Academy community, to find support from and ask questions of others in a similar position. It is open to any students questioning their sexuality or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

Reception to the announcement in the theater was positive on the whole, and most students’ only comment was that they were surprised that an affinity time did not already exist. In fact, several students mentioned that it wasn’t really a big deal. The important thing to consider, however, is that this is a huge step for students in the LGBTQ community, even though it may seem inconsequential to students who identify as straight. The knowledge that there is a safe place on campus and that there are other people in the community who are looking out for them is something that may help those questioning their sexuality or who are in need of support.

Academy is generally considered to be an open, accepting community, but this is partly because people who are opposed to sexualities other than heterosexuality generally do not speak up for fear of the strong opposition they would face. This begs the question: are we valuing members of the LGBTQ community or merely tolerating them?

Academy needs to assess where it belongs on the national stage. Our country is moving towards universal marriage rights. But for the LGBTQ community, does this mean they are fully embraced by the nation and its institutions, or that the country is simply giving in to the majority opinion and no longer fighting to prevent same-sex marriages?  If the latter is the case, then the LGBTQ movement still has huge strides to make. A project created by Harvard students Curtis Lahaie and Kyle McFadden features images of students holding chalkboards with phrases that relate to their sexuality and how it is treated within their community. The goal is to illuminate issues that LGBTQ people face everyday, beyond simply marriage rights. The project can be viewed here:

Academy seems to face similar obstacles concerning LGBTQ members. Yes, the school and majority of students have come to accept their presence in the community, but it is still far from being a welcoming environment. At times, it can even seem as though students are supporting LGBTQ rights merely because it is the socially conscious thing to do, or as though students want to passively support them without actually getting involved with the community.

Until there is no need for clubs like GSA, because everyone feels comfortable openly embracing their peers’ sexuality, the school will not be an entirely accepting place.

GSA has its work cut out for itself. Last year, the club tended to address issues of sexuality within the community by encouraging all students to voice their opinions in a public forum. This year, the club is taking a quieter, more intimate approach. It is starting from within, working with those directly affected by the school’s treatment of LGBTQ students to pinpoint the issues that are most prominent within their lives. Academy is still behind as a community if people are not even aware of the many sexualities that exist. LGBTQ is a convenient acronym, but the more comprehensive acronym is LGBTQIA, which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. There are many different sexual orientations with which people can associate.

The school certainly has to evolve if it will ever be fully embracing of all its members. But this affinity time is a huge step forward. It will give all LGBTQIA members of the community of a place to voice their fears and their ideas on how to better the community. Even if not all of those questioning their sexuality attend, the fact that this meeting exists shows to them that there are people at Academy who will listen and try to help them if ever they need it. This meeting is a start to opening the school to people of all sexual orientations and making it a place where every student seeks to care about and help others.











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