Speaking out against discrimination in the classroom

GSA presents their message to staff at BVH


Photo provided by Eric Helle

The Gender Sexuality Acceptance (GSA) club gathers at a faculty meeting on Thursday, September 12, in the faculty room to inform staff of LGBTQ+ issues within the school community. Senior and Vice President Jessica Lewis of the GSA club presents a slide at the meeting.

Lilyana Luna-Salazar, Sports Copy Editor

The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Club had a message to give to the teachers at Bonita Vista High School (BVH) about the LGBTQ+ opinions, pains, and needs. They were given a chance when given permission to speak at a faculty meeting on Sep. 11.

“We were all discussing  how teachers do not have the training [for] LGBTQ+ issues, and then we [decided] we should [present in a faculty meeting]. And I [said] yes, let’s do that,” advisor of the GSA Club Marina Dillingham said.

Dillingham then emailed BVH principal Roman Del Rosario Ed.D. for a chance to present at the faculty meeting, and they were given the green light. The club wanted to let teachers know the issues that were happening on campus.

“Well, there’s a lot of bullying going on at the school – it’s not exactly direct, but there’s a lot of homophobia and transphobia on campus. But [mostly it] is hearing slurs in the classroom. Like being directly told, ‘Oh, get out of the changing room.’ Students frequently get targeted because they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” President of the GSA Club and senior Jane Banatao said.

Some of the members of the GSA club feel teachers do not support them, or do not stand up for them in a classroom while hateful words are being said to them.

“For me, personally, I know that I feel like there’s not that many teachers on campus that are usually there for us [ the LGBTQ community],” secretary of the GSA club and senior Taylor Bailey said.

Dillingham stated how sometimes they understand teachers do not know how to deal with these types of situations due to the fact that teachers receive none to little training on LGBTQ+ issues specifically. Dillingham herself has only received one training for one hour in her 30 years of teaching.

“85% of teachers are trained on bullying, and only 33% are trained on LGBTQ+ topics and 24% on trans [issues],”  GSA club member and senior Calista Asaro said.

In the presentation, a few slides were dedicated to an activity the club has done involving them writing positive and negatives things about what they experienced in school on a sticky note. 

“I was bullied and called homophobic slurs by the same group of people in front of the teacher, and the teacher did nothing for two years,” one of the anonymous stickynotes read.

Not all the notes were shown in the presentation – mostly just the ones that happened in a classroom, or where a teacher could have made a difference. Asaro states that most of the sticky notes were negative.

“The [LGBTQ+ students] literally had teachers who just sit there and listen to other students pick on them. [There was a student who] said that their mother must have had down syndrome if they had them as a child,” Banatoa said.

When hearing slurs and hateful words, Asaro advises to speak against it – otherwise, it will never end. Many teachers have congratulated the members for their presentation.

“I’ve had a few teachers email or text me, and then we had teachers at the GSA meeting, and we were getting a lot of compliments from them. Ms. Dillingham has been emailed by a lot of teachers approaching us [with requests] to speak in their classes,” Asaro said.

They also have intentions to present outside of BVH. A teacher at San Diego State University asked for the club to present in her class, and Banatoa’s father has asked them to present to the staff at Eastlake Elementary School.

“We need to work on our presentation and adapt it for different audiences so that we can do it for students – like younger students, older students, adults. And we also want to contact other groups on campus so that [GSA] has a presence,” Dillingham said. 

Banatoa hopes that from presenting at the meeting that the teachers realize there are issues present on campus, and they need to be serious about not condoning hateful slurs. 

“We’re here and really, all we’re asking from teachers is to give us recognition. We want them to help, we want them to be our supporters– our allies. We want them to look out for our students and the LGBTQ+ community,” Banatoa said.