Members of Gay Straight Alliance travel to Dickinson for conference

Last Friday, 12 members of the L-S Gay Straight Alliance could not be found wandering the halls of the Lampeter-Strasburg High School. Instead, they were caught with eyes and ears honed to the messages of speakers at a local leadership conference. The annual GSA Leadership Summit is an event held at Dickinson college. The summit is a two-day conference that is presented by The LGBT Center of Central PA, Planned Parenthood Keystone, and Dickinson College's Office of LGBTQ Services. This year marked the ninth year for this annual conference, which aims to educate students, and provide a network of resources and people for them to reach out to.
L-S students including Camille Holzbauer, Grace Musser, Bri Yeager,
Becca Krackow, and David Johnson attended the annual conference
Photo provided by Mr. Calvin Esh, GSA Advisor

The Lampeter Strasburg Gay-Straight Alliance is no stranger to this summit. Students from the L-S GSA have attended this summit for several years under the supervision of its own advisors, Mr. Calvin Esh and Mr. Richard Abate. Students from the club are fond of the event. Some have gone to the summit multiple times, for others, it was a first. This year, 12 students, and two advisors were in attendance.The day was centered around educating, and providing support for students, schools, and club advisors.

The summit started off with an introduction from members of the college, the LGBT Center, and Planned Parenthood. A keynote speaker gave an address that focused on problems that faced the LGBT+ community, and on how to be more understanding and supportive of different members of the community. The difference between sexuality and gender, prefered pronoun use, and respecting and understanding the identities of LGBT+ persons were big topics of the speaker's address.

Students were then sent off to a number of workshops of their own choosing. Workshops included sessions on creating a safer school setting for LGBT+ students, education on safer sex, and how to create a more inclusive atmosphere for the GSA. Each attendee was able to attend three workshops of his or her choosing. Individual rooms were provided from the college for each workshop, where students and teachers were invited to engage in conversation about the topic at hand. They were informed on a variety of topics, including issues facing the LGBT+ community. Each of the three sessions were approximately an hour in length, with a lunch break in between.  

Christian Nitchie, president of the L-S GSA, says, "It was tons of fun and incredibly informative. The summit is a great way to meet the larger community and is a blast for everyone involved."

Mr. Esh concurs.

"Probably the biggest reason it's important for us to attend is for GSA members to meet students from other schools and be able to network and share ideas about how to advocate more effectively," he says. "The workshops are generally very good, too--anything from health care needs to safe schools and more."

A wrap-up session was held at the end of the day to reorganize groups, and send them off with a positive message. Students and educators alike left the 9th Annual GSA Leadership Summit with companionships, memories, and valuable information to make positive changes in both their clubs and schools.

View a program detailing the workshops available at the conference

--David Johnson, Reporter

Edited: BP

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