Transcript for High school teacher creates GSA club to give students safe space he never had
[MUSIC PLAYING] MICHAEL WOODS: I am involved in GSAs because I do not want anyone to go through what myself and others went through in high school, you know, the whole taunting and bullying. And I was even spit on. I started my first GSA, I think, in 2001. And back then, they were called Gay-Straight Alliance. And now they refer to it as Gender and Sexuality Alliances. It's a way for young people of all identities, whether they be LGBTQ or allied individuals, to meet. It's considered to be a safe space.
It's like any other club, except these people happen to attend a club that's called GSA. They're student-driven. Sometimes you may walk in the room and see kids doing homework. They like puzzles. Who knew? It may be just a social aspect. And some days, it may be organized into something that's a little bit more structured.
I had decided I was going to come out to family at 31. And I had made a list of reasons to come out and reasons not to come out and why it was important. And I had decided I was going to be truthful. And I was going to live my truth. I had decided that if I didn't come out, I was going to come home and unlife myself, which is a fancy word for-- we can figure what that means. I would no longer be on this planet.
Very lucky to be working in a district where I work. But there are other areas of my state that don't have that luxury-- and imagining what their kids are missing out on as far as safe spaces. I think what I gained by coming out-- what kids gain by GSAs, whether they be LGBTQ+ or allied, is they gain respect for themselves. It's just really teachers like myself and other advisors who really want to take kids who are marginalized, regardless of why they're marginalized, and tell them, you know what, you're OK because I turned out OK.
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