In 1990, a group of educators formed the organization now known as GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, in order to address the needs of LGBT students in K-12 schools.
21 years later, the organization continues to promote a positive atmosphere free of bullying and harassment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation.
When communication between McDaniel’s Allies and Westminster High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance initiated, Allies Co-President Masha Makhylgina began to envision a network and support system for the GSAs of all Carroll County schools through a chapter of GLSEN.
Until recently, the closest chapter of GLSEN was located in Baltimore, but Makhylgina notes the importance of a Carroll County chapter because “we’re in a conservative community that needs a venue to bring schools together.”
Makhylgina’s current goal is to make other Carroll County schools aware of GLSEN. By the end of April, she predicts, the chapter will be fully functional, and members of Allies will begin to guide and mentor high school students and help to strengthen local GSAs. Additionally, support meetings will be available to the public.
Makhylgina said she predicts that the Carroll County GLSEN chapter will hold regular meetings and begin hosting events. In five years she pictures “a concrete scholarship program, safe houses, and conferences in Carroll County.”
“We’re not going to be quiet,” Makhylgina states. “We’re here to build a community.”
To get involved or learn more about GLSEN, attend Allies meetings on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. in Ensor Lounge.