“Coming out” with a new club

Sophia Walsh, Editor in Chief

Editors Note: Quincey Epley is the Editor-in-Chief

Acceptance, support, safety and a fun time are all things that would describe the environment Gay Straight Alliance leader senior Quincey Epley is trying to create within North Platte High School.
The Gay-Straight Alliance, also known as GSA, is a new club at North Platte High that is focused on making a safe and accepting space for students in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as their straight allies. “It is a space where students who identify as LGBTQ+ could go and not have to deal with harassment that happens at school,” said Epley. “It’s a place for everyone.”

Not only does Epley want to create a caring environment for LGBTQ+ students, but she also wants to change the school and community’s view of being gay. “I want to normalize it,” she said “we’re all just people.” Epley has noticed a homophobic energy that walks the halls of NPHS and hopes to shift the public’s opinion.

Students like sophomore Nathan Morris, have felt like they didn’t have a place to talk about their problems or just be with people like them openly. They now feel they have somewhere they can go to be safe from judgment. “I thought it was a great idea. All these students get to come and be accepted, they get to be who they are,” said Morris

This is where senior Doc Rodgers differs. He doesn’t believe that school is an appropriate place to hold a club of GSA’s nature. To express his opinion on the topic, he decided to take down GSA posters around the school. “I just don’t think school is a place to do it,” said Rodgers, “It was kinda thrown at us, participation or not.”

Morris feels that even if teachers tell their students the classroom is a safe and accepting space, there’s always whispers of hate around him. “We were just told that we were supposed to be accepted everywhere we went in the school and that wasn’t always true,” he said.

Morris feels as though North Platte High isn’t always as accepting as it seems “I’ve been called names to my face. There was one time where someone put a picture of me on their Snapchat story and called me a [f*g],” said Morris, “I’m just trying to find a place to be me.”

“Sadly, there’s still a lot of harassment that goes on at this school, whether it’s verbal, or ripping down [GSA] posters,” said Epley. She acknowledged that the GSA has faced backlash before and after their first meeting. “We have put up 80 posters and about 75 of them have been ripped down, so that’s a visual representation [of the hate],” she said.

Epley first came up with the idea the summer between her sophomore and junior year with her friend, sophomore Jada Maline. “We thought it would be really beneficial to our school,” says Epley. For Maline and Epley, it was hard to find a sponsor that had time to commit to the club. When the school’s librarian Sky Seery came over from Mid-Plains Community College, Epley found the opportunity to bring her into the GSA as its sponsor. “She was in charge of the GSA at Mid-Plains, so she made it easy because of her experience,” says Epley.

Seery started building the GSA at Mid-Plains from nothing, and over 5 years it has grown to what it is today. Starting with monthly meetings, conferences and overall growth of awareness across the campus. Bringing students together and letting them know they’re not alone is Seery’s goal for North Platte High as well. “My goal here is to get students involved and give students a voice,” said Seery, “the teenage years are really hard.”