The Gay-Straight-Alliance


Hana Zhang

Ms. Klatsky, the advisor and founder of Carle Place’s Gay-Straight-Alliance.

Hana Zhang, Contributor

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The Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA) is not only a club, but a safe space. It’s not only a safe space for just LGBTQ members, but also a safe space for anyone who feels different to society. Everyone feels ostracized by society at some point in their lives, so it is important for people to be aware of the GSA’s work and efforts to make people of all different walks of life feel safe and loved. Ms. Klatsky says, “If we don’t have safe spaces, then we don’t even have a learning environment, and that’s not just a GSA thing, the whole building should be a safe space for students.” I interviewed the advisor, Ms. Klatsky, to better understand the intentions and work of GSA.

Hana Zhang
The LGBTQ community’s rainbow flag hanging by the window in Ms. Klatsky’s room

Ms. Klatsky started the Gay-Straight-Alliance because 3 years ago, students came to her because they were looking to start a club with the hopes of educating people of the LGBTQ community. When I asked her what the goals for the club are, she responded with, “The goal for the club is to provide a safe space for all students, and also to raise awareness that it’s okay to be exactly who you are for all students.” She says that the key to understanding and acceptance is education. For example, she explains that some students probably think they they have never met a gay person. They think that that’s someone else, it doesn’t happen in a small town like Carle Place. “There’s people in your family, in your neighborhood, teachers, fellow students, and that doesn’t define who they are, that’s just part of who they are…It’s just a person who lives a little differently than you do, but basically we are all exactly the same.” She quotes Lady Gaga, “You were born this way.” “By existing, we show people that everyone’s the same inside, we all bleed, we all cry, we all laugh, and we raise awareness that the [LGBTQ] community is not some seperate place where we just put all the people. Instead, we are all living in the same world.” Ms. Klatsky explains that the GSA’s ultimate goal is to have a safe, loving, and accepting society.

Some changes she would like to see happen in society is for young people to finally be able to express who they are, and not feel like they have to hide themselves. “When I was a kid, we didn’t even talk about it. It didn’t even exist – people acted like it didn’t exist, like there was no community, or there was something wrong with the way people lived their lives.” She feels today that most young people are realizing that it’s okay to be different. She has a granddaughter who isn’t even one yet, and she wishes that by the time she’s in high school, a GSA won’t even have to exist, it won’t even be a question anymore. However people choose to live their lives and express themselves, it would be accepted without question. “I hope there would be no need for a GSA because we should all be aligned.”

Every year there is a LGBTQ conference at Stony Brook that members of the GSA attend. It brings together GSAs from all over Long Island. There are guest speakers with all kinds of concerns for the LGBTQ community. There are different workshops to go to, such as someone who’s considering transitioning, the rights of the LGBTQ community, and education for terms. “I think one of the most exciting things is that there are hundreds of people at this conference with all the same goal. I think that’s an incredible sensation. In Carle Place we have a little GSA, but look at the hundreds of people here who have all share the same goal.”

An interesting story in regards to Ms. Klatsky’s experience with a Pride march is that she has lead a Pride March with her convertible. “They have a lead car…and I drove…my convertible in about 100 degrees and it was just after the shooting in Orlando, so the community came out in droves. It was the most exciting day because not only watching the parade but being in the parade, I got to drive by all these people. I never felt so much love and spirit…It was such an empowering, exciting experience.” She also went to one in Huntington, and every year they have one at Long Beach during the first weekend in June. She hopes that we can march as a GSA at the Long Beach Pride March. 

Students should be involved with GSA because everyone in the club supports each other. Another reason is that some people are still not prepared to speak out and express who they really are because they are scared of what the community might think. However, GSA would help them realize they are not alone.  “The fact that we’re meeting, we are helping so many who are outside of this room just because we exist. The more people involved with GSA, the more power to students who are still anxious of expressing who they are. By knowing that there is a club like this, they feel more comfortable in their way of life. They don’t have to feel alone.” “There are a lot of members of GSA who are not gay, or trans, or bi, but they are all here because they agree with the message that we all need to stand together for a common good to help each other.”

Everyone should feel safe and accepted. “I want people to know that the GSA is open to everybody. For whatever reason for needing a safe space, GSA is always there. As corny as it sounds, we need to spread the love. She quotes Goethe: “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” This means that if everyone tried to make their own little world a safe and accepting place, then eventually, the whole world would be a safe and accepting place. She invites everyone to take part in the fight to be accepted and included. The GSA meets every Thursday at 3:00PM in Ms. Klatsky’s room (room 122).

Hana Zhang
Poster for the GSA in Ms. Klatsky’s room describing when and where to meet.