Local High Schools Offer Queer-Straight Alliances

It has only been a few months since the Trump Administration moved into the White House, but it’s already clear that supporting the LGBTQ community is not at the top of the president’s list. Trump has already pulled away from supporting transgender rights in schools, which makes a lot of people nervous for the future. Thankfully, members of the Corvallis School District create safe spaces for their students to be their authentic selves, despite what’s happening at the federal level.

Alliances and Support Groups
At Corvallis High School, the primary LGBTQ club is the Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) created by and for students. According to its staff advisor, Millie Kimes, this is the longest-running GSA/QSA in the state. The scope of this club changes each year depending on what the current members want to focus on. “Some years it is more activism-based, others more support-based, and others more socially based,” said Kimes. While staff advisors act as facilitators, the students really drive the conversation. Kimes, who has been involved with the QSA for 10 years, points out that many staff members at Corvallis High School are available to support their students.

Crescent Valley High School (CVHS) also takes LGBTQ support very seriously. Principal Steve Kunke said that clubs can vary from year to year, but they currently have the Queer Sexuality Alliance (QSA). “As a school, we have also worked with teachers to better address hurtful language and ensure that CVHS is a tolerant environment for all kids,” Kunke added. Last fall, CVHS trained all teachers on transgender issues. This January, they continued working on strategies for addressing intolerant language. “The work of creating and sustaining a school environment (actually, a culture) where all students are valued and respected is hard, and on-going, but so important,” Kunke said.

Just down the road, Philomath High School is doing its part to address the needs of LGBTQ students as well. Counselor Kim St. Clair wrote, “We provide support in several group settings, especially through our GSA group. Students may choose individual support from a number of trained staff, and resources are shared with students about several supports in our community.”

If It’s Time to Transfer
Not all schools are so progressive, and in many cases, this won’t change any time soon. If you read closely, Santiam Christian School in Adair Village very clearly states that they will not support LGBTQ students. On page six of their Parent/Student Handbook, they write, “Unmarried cohabitation with members of the opposite sex, sexual misconduct, and homosexual and/or transgender behavior are unacceptable for Santiam Christian students.” Should you find yourself unwelcome in your own school, you have options; Corvallis School District will welcome you with open arms.

The transfer request window for the 2017-’18 school year is March 1 to March 31, so there is time to make a change. If that window closes, there’s still hope. The district “may make placement decisions when warranted by special circumstances during the school year.” There’s no need to stay in a bad situation – your education and well-being are too important.

Find a Student Transfer Request Form at the Corvallis School District website: https://www.csd509j.net/

By Anika Lautenbach

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