Ally Week is being held this year from Monday, Sep. 24 to Friday, Sep. 28. Ally Week was designed to encourage American students to be allies with LGBTQ members of their communities and stand up against bullying and harassment targeting these individuals. It was created by members of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) National JumpStart Student Leadership Team in October 2005 and has since become a national movement.
According to GLSEN, during Ally Week LGBTQ students and teachers are encouraged to lead a dialogue on what kinds of support they need from allies in the school environment. GLSEN places emphasis on student allies intervening when they hear anti-LGBTQ language and remarks within their schools, with the intent of eliminating this kind of bigoted vocabulary from common discussion.
The MTHS Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) seeks to provide support for the LGBTQ students within the school community. GSA Vice President and junior August Hedal believes Ally Week is an important opportunity for educating the public about what being an ally to the LGBTQ community truly entails.
“Ally Week is important because it helps those who are less informed on what being an ally is [understand the concept],” Hedal said. Being an ally is actively helping and being supportive, contrary to the belief of many who think being an ally is simply not having any sort of dislike towards the LGBTQ+ community.”
The MTHS GSA believes that one of the most impactful steps to take as an ally is to be aware of the language that one uses on a daily basis.
“Being aware of language and its meaning is a big step towards supporting the [LGBTQ] community,” Hedal said. “By both minding your own language and not using derogatory terms, as well as reminding others what words are okay and not okay to use, you can help those involved in the LGBT community feel more welcomed.”
Although the MTHS GSA was not able to coordinate any school-wide actions for this year’s Ally Week, as they were busy setting up the club for the year and taking care of procedures such as elections, it plans to be active in supporting LGBTQ students throughout the school year. Additionally, the GSA has discussed plans to host an MTHS Ally Week at some point later in the school year so that the club has more time to dedicate to its preparation.
However, the GSA has already begun to take supporting actions for MTHS LGBTQ students.
“[The GSA] did speak to student teachers that came in to learn about how to be a good ally to students,” Hedal said. “We also have stickers and pins to supply to allies.”
Hedal encourages all students who are interested in LGBTQ issues to look into the MTHS GSA.
“We’re always looking for more members, including allies! Contrary to popular belief, despite our name being GSA, [it] is for more than just people who identify as gay,” Hedal said.