The Past and Future of GSA


(from left to right) GSA President Haley Cox, sponsor Leslie Lloyd, and President Blake Nalley

Ahna Cates, Staff Writer

If it’s not challenging, it won’t create change.

Change is exactly what the GSA wants to make.

GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) is a club that doesn’t get a lot of attention throughout the school and has faced challenges in the past. The club is centered around unity, education, representation, allyship, bettering the community and discussion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues. They’ve set higher goals to bring more awareness to the club this year.

GSA was founded in 2015. The club is sponsored by English teacher Leslie Lloyd and is currently lead by juniors Blake Nalley and Haley Cox. Nalley has been a president of the club for two consecutive years. Cox has become a co-president this year, as the previous co-president, Eleanor Upton, graduated last year.

Many schools across the country have formed student GSA groups, including Bullitt East. The club initially faced challenges due to the perception of the club throughout the school. “The first year that we had it, people were very negative about it. Parents called and complained and it was kind of an issue, but it has gotten easier and easier each year,” said Lloyd.

However, the club hasn’t let challenges set them back. They’ve seemed to handle any negative reactions in a simple way. “There isn’t really anything we can do about it. People are going to have their opinions. We don’t take it to heart, and we just brush it off,” said Nalley.

Changes in recognition and acceptance within the school have slowly been coming over the years. The recently formed Student Leaders in Action and Mentoring (SLAM) group have been sure to be inclusive of every school club and organization. “I think we’ve been moving in the right direction this year. SLAM has really helped make us feel like a real club because they come to me all the time. They’re always including me with everything they do with clubs and the sponsors,” said Lloyd.

This increase in tolerance has helped GSA grow in attendance over the years. In their first year, the club had about five members present per meeting and currently there are about 10 to 15 members per meeting. The group still wants to raise more awareness for their club to make change in their school and in their community, which has been a difficulty from year-to-year. “There’s LGBT people in this school, and they need representation too. I think a lot more LGBT people might feel a little safer because they have a club that represents them. They have a club that represents who they are, and it just helps to go to a school where that, maybe isn’t widely accepted, but is at least known about,” said Cox.

Leaders have relied heavily on word of mouth to bring in new members. “The only people who really know about it are from people who spread the word,” said Nalley. This year, however, the club has purposefully made changes to bring more attention. Nalley and Cox have successfully put up posters and started a GSA Instagram page. The Instagram username is behsgsa. Future plans for the year include celebrating LGBT awareness days (such as Transgender Day of Remembrance, Zero Discrimination Day, National Coming Out Day, Pride Month etc.), doing fundraising to sell t-shirts, a possible educational Q&A with classes willing to participate, general discussion and gaining support at meetings.

“I want us to be able to get out and be able to do things and open up to the school and show a different side than what most people think about the community,” said new member freshman Em Perryman. GSA currently meets every Wednesday after-school from 2:10-3:30 in Lloyd’s classroom.