Campbell County High School Making Progress Towards Acceptance

(Gillette, Wyo.) The sound of laughter can be heard floating down the hallway outside room 145. It makes Camels journalism teacher Claire Carter very happy. "I'm not really sure what they need or if they need anything," Carter said about the students gathered inside her classroom. "I just want the group to be a safe place." In February a student presented the idea of starting a club on campus for LGBT+ students. Carter calls it the "Gay / Straight Alliance", but the students are calling it "Gender / Sexuality Alliance." Either way, it's "GSA." The club isn't officially sanctioned by the school, which is why it meets every Wednesday during lunch hour in Carter's classroom. She's providing her own time -- and the pizza -- in order to create a safe space for teens to feel accepted and receive support from their peers. They had their fourth meeting this week, and the size of the group has more than doubled, with over two dozen students gathered while we were there. "I want to make sure people feel comfortable here," Carter added. "I don't want to put an agenda on them." Privacy is one of the first concerns. Carter turned away a few journalism students who were hoping to work in the class on their lunch break. She doesn't want anyone to have a reason to fear what they say during GSA will become rumor or worse. And her fear of making her students a target by bringing them together is one of the reasons it took her a while to agree to do it. [image: gsa.jpg] To her knowledge, Campbell County High School has never had a club like this. Their progress may be late, but it's no less welcome. Gender fluid Junior student Yara / Marino decided there needed to be a level of discussion around gay and trans students in the school, because of the support they've already received from friends. "I accidentally came out to my entire English class. Instead of being made fun of or laughed at, I actually got applause for it," they told us. "We just want to hang out and be gay." Yara / Marino is hoping to bring awareness about gender, and having the support of the GSA helps bolster confidence in the message. They're hoping to get the club out more next year during games. "Be who you are, and don't be afraid of what people tell you." Carter has started a GoFundMe account to help her pay for lunch and buy books and other support materials for anyone who needs them. It has received overwhelming support by the community, as well as a few angry emails from people outside of the state. But they're prepared for detractors. "The fact these kids walked in here today makes me really proud of them," Carter said. "They're brave." #county17 #news