Bixby GSA: Fighting for Justice

'Oklahoma's views have improved, but there is still a ways to go.'

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Bixby GSA: Fighting for Justice

The Bixby High GSA participates in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

The Bixby High GSA participates in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

The Bixby High GSA participates in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

The Bixby High GSA participates in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

Ava Harper, Reporter

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Across the nation, Gay Straight Alliances have provided support systems for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer students since 1998, although Bixby High didn’t begin a GSA until April 2017.

GSAs are student-run groups, usually in high schools or middle schools, and create a platform to fight for racial, gender, and LGBTQ justice.

The Bixby GSA has about 20 consistent members, with a total membership of 30, according to faculty sponsor Kim Jurkiw. LGBTQ and straight students are welcome, which explains why it is an alliance.

Jurkiw, the club’s founder, says formation of the group was “slow because of the school board.”

Every other year, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network conducts a National School Climate Survey to determine if schools in each state are safe for LGBTQ students. The most recent survey deemed schools in Oklahoma unsafe.

“Oklahoma’s views have improved, but there is still a ways to go,” Jurkiw says.

Taylor Raye, program coordinator at Tulsa Youth Services, agrees that Oklahoma’s acceptance of LGBTQ individuals has progressed but “not at the speed everyone would like.”

“The bigger the city, more likely to be more progressive,” Raye says. “We are working on providing service to rural communities.”

According to education network’s national survey, 57.6 percent of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientations and 43.3 percent because of their gender expressions. The vast majority of LGBTQ students says they have faced some kind of harassment, be it verbal, physical or electronic.

Most GSAs take part in the education network’s national Day of Silence, April 27, with the goal of spreading awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students.

Jurkiw says GSAs provide safe places to talk about inequality that many students and zones where students can relax and open up. In some schools and cities, Gay Straight Alliances have been controversial and some see a particular group as a “gay club.” But to members, GSAs allow them  to talk freely and not fear homophobia or transphobia.

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