In honour of Pride month, we decided to interview a representative from a club that represents LGBTQ+ people at one of our schools. To find out more about this club and LGBTQ+ acceptance in Frankfurt, read through the GSA’s answers to these important questions.
What is the GSA?
The GSA is a school club basically and stands for Gender Sexuality Alliance. It’s sort of a support group for LGBTQ+ students, a safe space where people can go to chat or meet friends or whatever. In our school it serves as a representative for LGBTQ+ students to campaign to the direction about problems or things we think need fixing or just to campaign for visibility. It’s an American thing, quite an old American thing actually and it’s relatively new here in Europe. We’re kind of one of the last European Schools to do it, actually.
When was it founded and how often do you meet?
It was founded at the beginning of this year by a student initiative with the help of a few teachers. Meeting times tend to change depending on how many people we are; meeting this year has been kind of difficult with covid and being online. Back in the first semester we used to meet every two weeks on Tuesdays after school. Whenever someone had something they wanted to talk about, we organised a meeting. We’re trying to get on schedule again and actually have a meeting today!
What do the meetings consist of?
So far it’s been a lot of making posters, or meeting with the school representatives, talking about what projects we’re working on. We’ve also had a few meetings where we hadn’t anything concrete to do so it was just a place to talk. It depends, I guess, on what we have going on. It can be a place where we come together to work on something if we have a project going on, like when we were working on the Instagram page, or it could be a place where students can come to talk or hang out.
Who can join the GSA, only LGBTQ+ people or also allies?
Anyone can join the GSA, regardless of whether you’re a part of the community, or you’re an ally there to maybe support a friend or learn more. As long as it’s a safe space, anyone is welcome!
What do you hope to achieve with the GSA?
It’s supposed to be a safe space right, so before the GSA was founded our school didn’t have much representation for LGBTQ+ people, there wasn’t really any place, anyone campaigning for them. So I guess my hopes for the GSA are that it continues in the future and becomes a part of our school.
What are your plans for the future of the GSA?
What we have going on now is quite nice, we haven’t got too many people, which is also ok, I mean it just depends on who wants to join, though there’s a lot of queer kids in the school though not as many in the GSA which is understandable. But I guess for future plans it would be cool to see it grow with more students, to see it become a more permanent part of the school, maybe it would be even possible to collaborate with other schools’ GSAs.
Is the situation still so bad for acceptance of LGBTQ+ people or has it gotten a lot better recently?
Well I think we tend to live in a bit of a bubble, we as students, I mean, in this school. Yeah, the situation is bad. It’s not like just because we have marriage equality that suddenly all queer people’s problems are gone, you know. Queer and trans students are still at a much higher risk than their straight and cis counterparts for contemplating or even committing suicide, being bullied, dealing with things like depression or anxiety. Queer and trans kids are at a much higher risk of being thrown out of their homes. You know, we’ve seen a wave of attacks, with legislation, trying to hinder the rights of trans people. So no, I don’t think we’re living in a world of true equality, it’s still something we have to work toward. Just because we live in a relatively progressive place and we go to school at a European School doesn’t mean that there aren’t any problems.
Locally in our school have you noticed any bullying of queer and trans people?
Yeah, I think there’s a bit of a culture of homophobic and transphobic language. Our school is not an exception to that. No. No, our school isn’t an exception. There’s definitely a homophobic atmosphere in the school, it may not be as prevalent, it may not be everywhere, but it’s there.
Are teachers supportive, for the most part?
Yes, I think so. You know, there’s always teachers who aren’t, but they are a minority, I like to think. There is some reluctant progressiveness, like when we tried to put a Pride flag up for Pride. Like the school wants to support their students, but doesn’t want to get backlash. So I would say in general yes, there is a supportive atmosphere in staff, but there is also a reluctance to it.
Interviewee: Jonas Hermans
Interviewer: Leah Kramer