A study conducted by the Center for American Progress in 2016 found that one in four people who identify as queer faced discrimination. This lack of security, respect, and protection extends into high schools, even today. For many queer students, their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club provides a safe space for them to be themselves.
Oakland Tech’s Queer Student Alliance (QSA) has made it their mission to create a safe and welcoming community for LGBTQ+ students at Tech through education, discussion, and normalization of the LGBTQ+ community. “I started going because I was in my middle school’s GSA and I wanted a similar kind of space,” says Scarlet Nakadegawa-Lee, now a senior at Oakland Tech. “It’s especially important to me because every classroom claims that they’re a safe space but do nothing to prove it, so it’s been really great to have an actual safe space with people like you and teachers that care about you.”
Over the past few years, the club has had several successes. For example, because of the club’s efforts, Tech now has two gender-neutral bathrooms: one by room 213 and another in between the RPL and Spanish hallways. The club has also attended teacher conferences and done classroom presentations to educate teachers and students on how to create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students. Although the general attitude towards LGBTQ+ students at Tech has significantly improved, there is still a long way to go.
This year, the club has held weekly Tuesday meetings, where students play games, give presentations, discuss queer news, and form bonds with other queer students and LGBTQ+ allies. One of this year’s highlights was their Valentine’s Day party. To raise money for the party, the QSA held a bake sale, featuring rainbow cookies, jelly tarts, and cookies in the shape of Adventure Time characters Marceline and Princess Bubblegum. During lunch on Valentine’s Day, around thirty students met in room 222 to enjoy heart-shaped pizza and Valentine’s candy while watching Luca, a sweet Pixar movie about a blossoming relationship between two Italian fish boys. All students who attended received a custom Valentine made by QSA’s leadership team.
Tech’s QSA club also aims to connect and collaborate with other schools. On March 18, 2022, members attended GSA day, where GSAs from various Bay Area high schools congregate to exchange ideas and celebrate LGBTQ+ culture.
There is much more excitement to come, so look out for an end-of-the-year celebration of the LGBTQ+ community at Oakland Tech! There will most likely be pizza, games, crafts, and QSA apparel.
Everyone is welcome to join QSA, which meets every Tuesday at lunch in Ms. Nord’s room (222). To stay connected with, text @joinqsa to 81010 to join the Remind, and follow @ot.qsa on Instagram.
Caption for image: Scarlet Nakadegawa-Lee and Araceli Samuel hosting the bake sale on Feb 7, 2022