Letter to the Editor: Gay-Straight-Alliance Club’s Response

Natalie Adams-Menendez, Senior

Free State,

My name is Natalie Adams-Menendez, and I am a Co-President of Free State’s Gay-Straight Alliance. During the week of finals there was an opinion piece published by the Free Press that addressed the social climate at Free State. In it, the author spoke about their negative experience with our club. As Co-President, I am writing a formal response to the statements made against GSA and reaffirming the central beliefs of our club. My response is in no way meant to belittle the author, the author’s opinions or the author’s trauma. GSA is extremely saddened by the experience that the author had while at Free State, and stands by the author in support.

GSA reaffirms that it is founded on the concepts of safety, tolerance, and respectful discussion. If you are interested in LGBTQIA+ issues and are supportive of the members of GSA, you are welcome to join. We pride ourselves on engaging in thoughtful, respectful discussion that centers on LGBTQIA+ issues, issues that are often left unaddressed. While GSA is a space for thought and discussion, it is also a safe space for those who identify under the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Hate toward our members or their identities will never be tolerated.

Second, I would like to address the statements made by the author about GSA. We apologize if the author felt that their connection or interaction with the club “outed” them. Like I previously stated, GSA has a nondiscrimination policy, and anyone who outs someone is no longer welcome in our club. In addition, our school’s administration has reaffirmed that any discrimination will be met with disciplinary action. The name of our club, Gay-Straight Alliance, was created so that people could participate without having to fear being outed. You can be an ally and attend GSA. Many people are in that situation. While I can see how affiliation with our club may appear to label someone as LGBTQIA+, I caution the student body against making any assumptions.

I am sorry that I had to write this letter. It deeply pains me, both personally and as a leader of GSA, that a bright, passionate student will no longer be attending our school. Now is the time to move on in solidarity and support, not to fight. I hope that our student body can join me by promoting acceptance and focusing on reconciliation in the aftermath of this situation. If you have any questions, feel free to attend the next GSA meeting on Wednesday, January 11.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful second semester!
Your fellow firebird,