Better name, better club

GSA is now known as Spectrum


Cade Ryan, senior, was one of the people who pushed the name change of GSA to Spectrum. The goal of the change to Spectrum was to make a more inclusive name to show how the club is accepting of anyone and everyone.

Parul Pari, Staff Writer

The club formally known as GSA, standing for Gay Straight Alliance, has changed their club name to Spectrum at the start of the new school year in an effort to be more inclusive of all the communities at the high school.

“Part of the reason [that the club changed their name] is that overall, they did not just want the club to be for gay students because the community is so much larger than just gay. There’s lesbian, bisexual, asexual, and so many more that I could keep going on forever with all the different types, but they wanted [the name] to be way more inclusive and they did not want to shut out the straight allies either,” Margaret Koy, one of the sponsors of Spectrum.“This is the one group that should never be exclusive of anybody because they all know what it feels like to be excluded and they want to include,”Koy said.

According to Koy, the student leaders were the ones who came up with the name of Spectrum. Cade Ryan, senior and one of the student leaders of Spectrum, emphasized his passion about the idea of having a more appealing name to show how the club is inclusive of everyone.

“I hope that it sparks more of an awareness that there is more than just gay and straight, and that there is that spectrum. Also there’s a lot of stigma with the name GSA that I’ve noticed in my three years of being in the club, and our goal of changing the name is also to bring down that stigma and show that we [have a current way of] teaching and in what we represent,” Ryan said.

One of the new ideas that Spectrum has is creating a non-judgmental environment, which is also what Ryan believes is what makes the environment a safe space.

“Something we stress is no judgement and respecting other people’s opinions and also respecting other people’s points of sensitivity. When we discuss anything political and anybody has a different point of view, we will respect that as long as everyone is staying respectful, [which] is most important to us, and if somebody makes a mistake, they just politely correct it and move on so that way nobody feels attacked, but everybody feels respected for who they truly are,” Ryan said.

According to Koy, the idea of having a safe place for anybody to come in and be who they are was not around when she was in high school.

“I grew up in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was first hitting and there was so much prejudice against it, and I saw close friends of mine who were gay and what they had to go through just to be who they were, and I just don’t want anyone to go through that. I just stood with my friends and you just have to stand with the people you care about,” Koy said.

In hopes of preventing this struggle for as many people as possible, in Ryan’s opinion, changing the name can help people, who are across the spectrum, find a safe place.

“We chose spectrum because it more reflects that array of genders and sexualities that are present in our society. There is not just a block form of what people are, as the club name suggests, people are in a spectrum and it just depends on where you fall within that and that is what we want to teach everyone.” Ryan said.

Koy, who has a child who is transgender, feels the club is a place that had prepared her to know how to talk to her child about what she was experiencing and relieve some of the emotional struggles that her child was experiencing.

“After a couple years of being a sponsor, it turned out that my second child is actually transgender, which I did not know at the time I had started sponsoring, but I felt good because my experience in GSA helped me to have the language to talk to her about her experience and what she felt and who she was and to be there to support her because that’s a tough transition and it can be really hard, so for her to have backup with her family was really important,” Koy said.

According to Ryan, the club name change gives students with experiences similar to Koy’s and others at LZHS a safe space to come to express who they are.

“I think it has helped people in the club feel more supported and it shows them that we recognize that there is more than just gay and straight, but people who are non binary or genderfluid are also recognized by our club,” Ryan said. “It is important that people know that there is a community and an environment that they can share their ideas and express themselves in ways they might not be able to in classrooms or even at home.”