CA GSA wins right to exist after two year struggle

By Jeff Walsh

In Madera, California, high school students fought the administration for two years to start a Gay Straight Alliance. Today, after working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and GSA Network, the school board agreed to allow the club to exist. Oasis spoke this afternoon with Thalia Arenas, the senior who serves as president of the GSA:

Just saw the news today so wanted to say congratulations. How long has the GSA been together?

We started in second semester of sophomore year (2005), trying to get it started. We were unsuccessful at the high school, because they told us it would take up to six months to approve it. We were discouraged, so we decided to take it to the Pan-America community center and they said, 'if you want to meet here with your friends for this club, it's fine.' They were OK with it. So, that's where we basically started.

Now, it has about six members, because it's hard to be out and open here in little Madera. I think that's where our activism started. Later on, we found out about the GSA Network, and they gave us information and resources on how to get started. And we felt empowered, because they told us 'We know you can do it,' they were just really helpful. They said, 'We have all the resources, if you guys need anything, just contact us. They're supposed to let you have it.'

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