Pelham Middle School introduces Gender and Sexuality Alliance to promote welcoming environment

“Many students, parents and teachers felt a GSA Club would be an important addition to our school. The PMHS GSA Club has been such a supportive environment for the high school LGBTQ community, and we hope to emulate that atmosphere for middle school students.” — Rebecca Schwarz, faculty advisor to the new Pelham Middle School Gender and Sexuality Alliance.

For the past month, 25 students have been meeting every other week to support each other as they go through middle school. For many people, GSA might stand for Gay-Straight Alliance, but for PMS students, it represents Gender and Sexuality Alliance. That’s because parents of LGBTQ+ students and student allies fought to make this alliance the right environment for the students.

Schwarz said she has a family member who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, and she has taken courses and been to support groups. “When I found out there was going to be a GSA Club at PMS, I jumped at the opportunity to run it,” Schwarz said. “I feel like my own experiences and knowledge can help our students, and I am excited that I get to support them.”

The students are creating a commercial that will be used in the school as a teaching tool about kindness. They are also finding memes to express the way they feel about being LGBTQ+.

Schwarz said she looks forward to hosting Spirit Days, Ally Week and a book club.

“Because it is a middle school club, not a high school club, there are different kinds of activities geared toward the different age groups, but the goal is similar—to provide a welcoming community for our LGBTQ students,” Schwarz said. “My vision for that is planning fun activities that promote LGBTQ pride and finding opportunities for advocacy in our school and community.”

So far, Schwarz and the alliance have also drawn ally posters and put them up all over the school. On Oct. 17, PMS students were asked to dress in purple to support anti-bullying against LGBTQ+ students. 

“The club is for both LGBTQ students and allies and no one is required to make any sort of declaration about themselves,” Schwarz said. “But many students feel excited to express their identities in this welcoming community of like-minded peers.”

Most people in the club are not openly LGBTQ+ and most students are still thinking about it or are allies there to support friends.

The GSA meets every other Thursday after the academy period in Schwarz’s classroom.

“My hope is that the club will raise awareness about various issues that impact LGBTQ students within the school and community,” Schwarz said.