Ally Week at West Ranch

Ally+Week+at+West+Ranch

Students at school have pledged to support each other, no matter their sexual orientation or identity.

Michelle Kim, Editor-in-Chief

West Ranch’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) celebrated Ally Week with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and GSAs nationwide from Oct. 15 to 19.  During this week, students form a community of “Allies” against the anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) issue in many schools.  An “Ally” can be defined as one who helps to defend the LGBT community against bullying or harassment.

Ally Week was started in 2005 by members of GLSEN’s Jump-Start National Student Leadership Team, who wanted to promote safety and security for LGBT students at schools.  It has since been celebrated each October.

“Ally Week is important because it proves to LGBT students that there are people in the school who promise to make their environment safe and free of bullying and prejudice,” said senior Remy Cashman, president of West Ranch’s GSA.

GSA advisor Ms. Heather Frame says that Ally Week at West Ranch was focused not only on finding Allies against bullying against LGBT students, but also Allies against bullying against everyone.

“It was to prevent bullying in general, and also just to eliminate hate speech in general, too,” she said.  “What’s really cool about the GSA is that they don’t just focus on LGBT issues—it’s sort of general issues.  We want to make sure that there is no bullying, period.”

Students had the opportunity to take pledges.  They pledged to, “Not use anti-LGBT language or slurs, intervene, if I safely can, in situations where students are being harassed, and support efforts to make this, and every, school safe for all students.”

“Anytime that you get a large group of people together in any situation—it’s not just limited to high schoolers; it’s just any group of people—that sometimes hurtful and hateful things are said and done to people, even if it’s unconsciously,” she added.  “We just want to heighten peoples’ awareness of their actions and their words.”

Not only were over a hundred pledges taken that week, but students also joined GSA and learned more about what the club does.

Action doesn’t end after Ally Week ends, though.

“Now that Ally Week is over, we are concentrating on fundraising for the club as well as finding guest speakers to come in and share their stories of inspiration,” said Cashman.

More information about Ally Week can be found through West Ranch’s GSA Club and on AllyWeek.org.  GSA usually meets on Thursdays in Ms. Frame’s room, 206, and is always open to new members.