How do you balance hate with positivity? This question, deeply rooted within the foundation of Medina High School’s GSA, has troubled the club since its very beginning. How do you combat bigotry with deliberate kindness? I decided to use my senior year to answer this question, and thus I interviewed members of the GSA.
Firstly, I approached sophomore Trevor Benson, who feels that Medina is an accepting place, for the most part. He explained, “Obviously there are those kids that either don’t agree with some choices others make, or they just like being mean.” I must say that I cannot disagree. On numerous occasions, my peers and dear friends have been harassed in the hallways of Medina High School. Not by the vast majority, but there are individuals who simply cannot accept another person’s self confidence or disposition. We believe our GSA can be a tiny fraction of an aid, healing the atmosphere at our school little by little.
Benson elaborated that the purpose of our GSA is “to help people in the LGBTQ community connect with others and feel supported, if they don’t already, and to give them people to talk and relate to.” Connection. Connection has always been a big priority for those in the LGBTQ community and allies. As is the case with all groups in the margins of society, the problem has to do with isolation. At MHS, we believe building a strong, inviting community is the key to negating that isolation. As a result, we hold many events over the school year, ranging from the Ally Coffee Break, to movie nights, to the Day of Silence in spring.
This past Thursday, I attended our blanket-making and letter-writing event. Students worked hard from 2:30pm-3:30pm, making tied blankets for a local nursing home with LGBTQ residents. They also wrote letters to political figures to remind them to keep everyone’s rights in mind. We believe that one way to spread fierce positivity is to make certain leaders in our community aware of the perspective of our youths. In this case, the perspective of youths who are either LGBTQ students or allies of the community.
Additionally, I interviewed freshman Katie Mathis. Mathis believes that “for the most part, Medina High School is an accepting place. There is a GSA to begin with, and there are many people who identify as LGBTQ+. I feel the main purpose of the GSA is to promote acceptance of the differences in the community and make Medina a safe place.” I definitely tend to agree with Mathis’ claims. The world may be more accepting of diversity now, but unfortunately, that is not a reality everywhere. It is comforting to know that students feel our little corner of the world in Medina is a safe and accepting place– even if that safe haven is solely within our GSA walls.
Part of the hospitable aura of the club, I believe, is due to advisor Jennifer Oehler (who is also the advisor for the school newspaper!). I find that the goal of our GSA officers and Mrs. Oehler is to work together to create a happy, safe place for everyone. Mathis agrees the environment is quite positive, “The atmosphere is very warm and inviting. No questions, the club accepts and appreciates. It feels like a family.” There you have it, readers. We at The Medinamite feel that acceptance is the key to defeating bigotry, and Medina is doing a superb job. Keep up the great work, and remember– fierce kindness is the key.