The acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has increased throughout the years, and in the 2017-18 school year Apopka High School formed their own LGBTQ plus club called GSA (Gay Straight Alliance/Gender Sexuality Alliance). The teacher sponsor, Ms. Amburgey, is also an English teacher at Apopka who took over from the previous sponsor after they had left. Her students had asked her to be the new sponsor because they thought she would be a good fit, as she had been the GSA sponsor at Wekiva the year before.
The Blue and White got in touch with Ms. Amburgey and questioned why she decided to sponsor the club, “I started a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) or (Gender Sexuality Alliance) at my previous school, and I really missed having the outlet to support our LGBTQ+ students.” She then talked about how her favorite thing about the club is that it becomes like a little family. Also, to describe GSA to others, Ms. Amburgey stated that it’s, “A safe place for LGBTQ+ students and allies to socialize, educate, build community, and connect to resources.” The privacy within the club is also very important and she states that, “Due to the nature of our club, privacy is highly respected, and we protect the identity of participants who may not wish to be outed.” Lastly, The Blue and White questioned if she had anything to say to the people who may be interested in the club. “If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, have friends or family that are in the community, or are simply an ally that believes in promoting acceptance and equality through education and social support, then GSA meets virtually every Monday after school. Email me with your student # to be added to the Canvas page for important resources and meeting links to the conferences.” Ms. Amburgey’s email is: [email protected]
Next, The Blue and White interviewed the President of GSA, Keith Nichols. Keith talked about joining GSA. “I joined GSA freshman year because I was a member of my middle school’s GSA and I wanted to see how the club was run in high school. I am a member of the LGBT+ community and I wanted a place where I could be myself and meet others like me.” While running for club President he explained, “I wanted to be the president because I felt as though I was an engaged member of the club and I wanted to be someone that LGBT+ students in our school could depend on. I was ready for the commitment of being an ambassador, a leader, an educator, and ultimately, a friend to my fellow students. I wanted to expand our club and our cause of equality and acceptance.” His favorite thing about the club is “that we are always educating each other and our peers. Every week, we discuss a topic such as what it means to be LGBT+, LGBT+ history that has been ignored, resources that exist such as Zebra Coalition, and tips for how to deal with problems we may face as a minority. The biggest reason for the rejection and disrespect towards our community is misunderstanding. Education and awareness are how we can combat nescience.” Which is why he would say to others who may be interested in GSA that, “I would encourage anyone to come to a meeting and check us out. All are welcome, even if you are heterosexual. Straight allies are a huge contributor to how our community has been able to come out of the dark and into the light. No matter your race, gender, sexuality, life experiences, or any other factor, you are welcome. Everyone deserves a place to feel like they belong.”
Overall, the Gay Straight Alliance/Gender Sexuality Alliance is a safe place for any student who would like to join. Whether you’re a member or ally of LGBTQ plus your privacy will be kept for those who would like it to be secret. If you’re interested or have any further questions remember to email Ms. Amburgey with your 480 number at [email protected]