GSA earns club hour for first time

The high school offers a broad range of clubs for students to choose from, including a the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. According to GSA network, 40 states across the US report of having a GSA club at their high schools and middle schools. The high school’s GSA club, sponsored by spanish teacher Cheryl Loeffler and English teacher Lisa Otter, now offers considerably more meeting times than the last school year.
GSA has been an active club at NHS for more than 15 years, before this year, it only met ‘as needed’. Due to a petition and talk with school principal Lisa Moore, Loeffler was able to change this ‘as needed’ club to a second club, now meeting four times a year.
“We usually have a good turnout,” Loeffler said. “This is the first time we’ve had it as a regular club, though, but we’re not meeting as much as we currently wanted to because we’ve cut down on club meetings,”
According to, GSA is a club that is open to all students for the purpose of providing a safe place for LGBTQ students and LGBTQ friendly students to connect and communicate. For Otter, GSA is all about letting the students lead the club and providing opportunities to branch out of Newton.
“I would love to see involvement in the activities with GLSEN (gay, lesbian and straight education network), and in Wichita, they’re expanding what they’re doing every year, as the need and continues to grow for awareness and sensitivity to some very complex issues,” Otter said.
GLSEN is a support system for LGBTQ students in K-12 schools across the country. According to the GLSEN website, they want every student in every school, to be valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“We are members of GLSEN which promotes, making sure our school is a safe and welcoming enviornment, it’s a safe place and an inclusive space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students and their allies,” Loeffler said. “That’s kind of what our club is about.”
Otter expressed that when she was last a co-sponsor for GSA, it was incredibly important to keep the identities hidden if they had not come out to the school or to their parents yet. Now, Otter hopes the school and community has become more compassionate and open to LGBTQ students.
“I hope that things have become better,” Otter said, “That we as a school have become better about being open to people who experience life differently than we do.”