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Support for LGBTQ Students Improving, but is it Enough?

What is Northridge Academy Doing to Support Their Communities
Support for LGBTQ Students Improving, but is it Enough?

Most of our lives have been impacted by the social and educational interactions that take place in schools. Many people even consider high school to be the “best years of your life.” But what makes those the best years, nevertheless, is the learning environment.

Over the past few years, it’s been clear that there has been a shift in the use of pronouns and gender identity awareness. Changes have been seen over many years, from educational institutions to workplaces. Examples of increased awareness have been seen through everyday social media outlets celebrities and influential figures use these platforms to express their identity, bringing awareness along with it. British singers such as Sam Smith have also stated to a newspaper “The Sunday Times,” a British Newspaper, that they identified more in the middle on the gender spectrum. “I don’t know what the title would be, but I feel just as much a woman as I am a man,” they said. Sam officially came out as non-binary during an interview for “I Weigh” and now officially uses they/them pronouns.

Schools especially, such as Birmingham Community Charter High and Daniel Pearl Magnet, have adapted to these shifts through the integration of LGBTQ+ clubs and counseling support that not only educate other students but inform them on other topics like how to respect others who are part of this community. But what changes are being made to support others of the LGBTQ+ community in places such as Northridge Academy?

The staff and faculty of Northridge Academy had a professional development day on this topic. A presentation was shown on March 5th about the importance of pronouns and the many topics related to queer students to help educate the staff and faculty here at Northridge Academy. This can be seen as a first step in the integration of these topics for some, but a select group of staff and students can argue that more can still be done to help the community even more. 

After a conversation with the sponsor of the GSA (Gender Sexuality Awareness) Club, Ms. Macias, it was clear that many including herself were not content with the minimal support toward major groups throughout the school (prior to March 5). After an interview with Macias, “I believe the awareness is not fully there unless we make the students more aware of the LGBTQ+ community, then that’s when people can start supporting more. I just feel like more of that awareness can come out first through more school events… On a scale of one to ten of how well the school brings awareness and supports the LGBTQ+ community at Northridge, it would be a solid 6. I feel that some are still hesitant toward the supporting of the community but most are great and continue to push for more support.” Other GSA club members began to chime in on the conversation shortly after. 

As members of the GSA club began to tune into the interview, small comments arose stating that “the school needs to do more as some already have trouble with you know… coming out.” This could be seen as true with some having trouble as individuals with non-binary or non-conforming gender identities often face unique challenges. Discrimination, social stigma, and even violence are still pervasive issues for transgender and gender non-conforming communities. These challenges can have detrimental effects on mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being according to the CDC on “Gay and Bisexual Men and Women’s Health.” 

Because of the anti-queer legislation across the country, the District asked for volunteers at each school to be a LGBTQ+ liaison (also known as the Pride Advisor). Mr. Kent, our librarian, volunteered for NAHS and is available to any student who has concerns or conflicts they need help with.

With the identification of an issue like this, a solution is needed as many of the students and staff agreed. What was proposed was to create more school-related LGBTQ+ events by Ms. Macias the GSA club sponsor, and other students even agreed as Shenod Lasz later agreed in his interview that more school-related events are needed to help support the LGTBQ+ body. The only concern that was given was by Mr. Kent as he stated, “Who would be responsible for these types of events and how could we push for more of these types of things?” 

Other student opinions have also been found to be somewhat similar to Ms. Macias’s as Shenod Lasz, a student part of ASB (Leadership Student Body), states that “the students are kinda split, with some being accepting and supportive and others simply being homophobic. I tend to see homophobia in person and online a lot. It might just be the educating and working by the faculty with the students to change some of their ways of thinking that should be changed.” Opinions like Shenod’s have been found to have correlations with others, stating that a lot of homophobia has been present at Northridge, and more education needs to be done for the students about homophobia and that something should be done. 

However, some staff members may argue that LAUSD has already done its part in supporting the community as the “District policy requires that all schools and all personnel promote welcoming school communities through mutual respect, tolerance, and acceptance among students and staff.” But those directly connected But as evidence shows from the students, this policy has not been enforced and integrated enough. Many of these issues have also stated their opinion with Mr. Kent, the Librarian, even stating that “ we should push that we recognize LGBTQ+ History Month in October and educate many on the misusage of pronouns” and “more LGBTQ+ events could be made.” The District has even published a bulletin on schools supporting these types of groups titled, “Supporting LGBTQ+ Fact Sheet and Policies” stating that LAUSD is required “to ensure that students can participate in all activities and be recognized in a manner consistent with their gender identities” and “provide instructional content that is inclusive of the diverse communities we serve.” However, according to many students here at Northridge, the administration doesn’t ensue these policies.

After these conversations with Ms. Macias, Mr. Kent, Shenod Lasz, and members of the GSA Club, it was clear that the District’s educational program could do more according to the students and faculty. Challenges have only persisted in the form of discrimination, un-educated students, and minimal support for those with non-binary, non-conforming gender identities, and those who struggle to express their sexual orientation. The question arises of what is to be done at Northridge Academy and what will be seen in the future by staff and students to make these changes for a better learning environment and mindset for many at Northridge Academy. 


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Casey Teramoto
Casey Teramoto, News Editor
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