Mehlville High School GSA opens its doors to Oakville students

Oakville has several clubs to get students involved in out of school activities. But this year, OHS is one club short due to the absence of its sponsor and a large number of its members. As of this year, Oakville no longer has a GSA Club. 

So what is, or was, GSA? Though most people think it stands for “Gay Straight Alliance,” it does in fact stand for “Gender and Sexuality Alliance.” The club serves as a gathering place for people of all genders and all sexualities. Though it was a small club in the past, the group would meet frequently and would participate in school events like the Homecoming parade. The club members would also invite others to celebrate LGBTQ+ history. They had gatherings for events like Transgender Day of Remembrance to promote trans pride. 

While there is no longer such a club at OHS, Mehlville High School has a Gender and Sexuality Alliance that is active and thriving. Sponsors Kyle Farley and Ariane Vagen provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, as well as allies of the community.

“Kyle Farley and I have been working together with GSA for at least six years,” Vagen said. “He’s into the arts and I’m into the sciences, and we do a lot of collaborative work that way.”

Because Oakville’s GSA organization is no more, the members of the Mehlville Gender and Sexuality Alliance have invited Oakville students to come and participate in club activities. But, even before OHS’ club dissolved, Mehlville had been trying to get Oakville’s students involved in their GSAs activities.

“We have tried to reach out in the past to do different things, but then COVID happened so we didn’t reach out so much anymore,” Vagen said. “And then this year we tried to reach out to see if students would like to go skating or something with our club and that’s when we found out there is no sponsor, so the club has dissolved.”

The members of the club at Mehlville have pushed for several changes to be made in their community, such as creating gender neutral restrooms and altering the gendered dress code for MHS graduation. 

“It (GSA) gives students in the LGBTQ+ community representation at the school. It gives them a voice at the school,” Vagen said. 

The GSA Club at Mehlville is intending to reach out to students at Oakville and ask them to participate in the club meetings and activities. Committed to giving those students the opportunity to participate, the club is even willing to provide rides or possibly host Google Meets.

“There is a community group that has reached out to provide rides. That would of course include a permission slip and we would have to run a background check,” Vagen said. “I’m thinking that could be a possibility because I want to make it accessible.”

The club will be continuing to reach out to Oakville students and hopes to offer support for LGBTQ+ students throughout the district. 

“Please feel free to reach out. If you have any needs in theLGBTQ+ realm of seeking help for anything, please let Mr. Farley or I know,” Vagen said. “Anybody is welcome anytime.”