Gay Straight Alliance members advocate tolerance

The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) will be holding its annual Day of Dialogue and Day of Silence events on April 26 and 27, respectively, to raise awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) issues in the Brookline community.

During the Day of Dialogue, people can attend assemblies every block of the day, whereas during the Day of Silence, students and staff members can choose to remain silent throughout the school day in order to raise awareness for the thousands of LGBTQ individuals who stay silent about their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Junior Danny Rabkin, a member of the GSA, said that the group plans to revert to a structure from former years for the Day of Dialogue.

“Last year, we had a big thing in the Schluntz gym with interactive games and tables,” said Rabkin. “We’re not going to be doing that this year. We’re just going to have the assemblies like we normally have had in previous years. But we’re doing our best to make them more interesting and not just have these assemblies that kids go to just to take a nap or do some homework.”

Senior Claudia Kass-Lascola, a GSA member in her freshman and sophomore years, continues to be an avid supporter.

“The Day of Dialogue is a wonderful event that we are so lucky to have. It takes a lot of planning that people don’t recognize,and it’s such a meaningful and powerful experience,” said Kass-Lascola. “It’s invigorating to get up on a stage and share a piece of yourself. That vulnerability is scary but, in a way, liberating.”

Kass-Lascola has spoken at the past three Days of Dialogue.

“My freshman year, I just got up there and spoke,” Kass Lascola said. “I didn’t rehearse. I had no papers. I just said what felt right. I talked about my own struggle in defining my sexuality, but I tried to put more of a comedic spin on it.”

Speaking about such a personal issue is not always easy, especially in front of such a large, diverse audience.

“There’d be times when I was up there in front of the mic and I looked into the audience and I saw faces of people whom I didn’t want to know,” said Kass-Lascola. “I didn’t want them to know what I’d gone through because I was scared of judgement. I was also worried that when I said that I was bisexual, boys would just sort of dismiss me as a lesbian or something. It’s nerve-wracking, but I had a good group of friends who had my back.”

In an email to faculty, GSA adviser and social studies teacher Kate Leslie asked teachers to mark their calendars for the Day of Silence as to avoid scheduling debates or big class discussions.

Senior Sebastian Hiltebrandt-Mcintosh has never been to the Day of Dialogue because none of his teachers have taken his classes to attend. However, he said that the LGBTQ events he has been to have definitely helped make him more aware.

“Before I came to BHS, I didn’t know how badly they were off,” Hiltebrandt-Mcintosh said of LGBTQ individuals.

According to Kass-Lascola and Rabkin, the GSA has helped shape people’s views of Brookline as an accepting community.

“I’m not going to lie, Brookline High isn’t perfect. Nowhere is perfect, but it’s better than a lot of places,” said Rabkin. “Coming out is a really important process for anyone who is gay. If you’re not ready, you should wait until you’re ready, but if you really feel like you should, then you shouldn’t be afraid to. You can come to the GSA for support from other gay students and teachers, as well as straight allies.”

Ayush Kumar can be contacted at [email protected]