It’s 3:58 PM on a Monday. Some students make their way to the library for a club meeting or more importantly, an escape from the draining day to day schedule. For most, this is more than just a check on their to do list: it’s their safe haven.
Many students feel marginalized in the community because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students don’t always have a safe place to feel welcome. Because of this, a number of support groups have started within schools to create outlets for these students. PRISM is a part of a national organization. This club fosters an open environment for the LGBTQ students and allies, in addition to students who are not LGBTQ themselves but support the community.
Senior Ethan Rodriguez is the president of this club and continues to reach out to the community.
“I am not really the demographic most associated with marginalized factions of society. I care a lot about the rights of the LGBT community,” Rodriguez said, “It’s fun to do something and feel like you’re helping.”
According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) 2015 National School Climate Survey, 46.9% of LGBTQ students reported little to no staff intervention in homophobic remarks at school. To combat that, librarian Diana Morris stepped forward and became the new sponsor of PRISM to give these students confidence in who they are.
“Four of five years ago the previous sponsor stepped down and they were looking for someone to take his place because otherwise they wouldn’t be a club,” Morris said, “I’ve always been a big advocate for social justice and I feel like the LGBTQ community is probably the most at risk among the student population in terms of suicide, depression, and bullying.”
Morris has brought the school social worker to one of their club meetings to do a presentation.
They work to promote suicide awareness and mental health. According to Rodriguez they have implemented numerous mental health resources this year.
“I really just try to help the people I can and facilitate. We got a couple of new really good mental health resources this year, so I try to make sure I’m directing situations over there,” said Rodriguez.
The big focus this year in the club is wellness of the students. One of the new staff members, Michael Skvarch, has taken the initiative to promote positivity.
“We come together and we essentially spend a lot of time getting to know each other,” said Skvarch, “We’ve talked a lot about the school theme of health and wellness. One of the things we’ve decided to do is a song share where everyone brings in their favorite piece of music.”
Both members of the LGBTQ community, and allies are fighting for equality. PRISM club brings together students who are working to ensure social justice.
“To me, it’s a safe space. It’s a place where students and teachers can get together and have conversations about topics related to day-to-day life within the LGBTQ community, but also beyond that, like in community outreach as well,” Skvarch said.
This article first appeared in our January issue of our news magazine.