The Queer Enchiridion: An Introduction to the GSA’s Question Box
EHS’s Gay-Straight Alliance club is always working to make our school safe and supportive for students who don’t fit into cisgender-heteronormative society. To further this initiative, we’ve started a new project with Campus to create an anonymous Q&A system for students to ask their fellow classmates about all things sexuality, gender identity, and attraction! We want this project to be the perfect place for people to anonymously seek answers to questions about how attraction or sexuality work, why gender and sex are considered to be different, what to do if you’re closeted and need support, advice on how to support someone you know, and all other related things. While adult support is appreciated, advice given from one adolescent to another is more applicable because of the comfortable and equitable atmosphere that their shared experiences create. The additional anonymity of this provides both the questioner and responder with appropriate boundaries and a sense of security, which is hard to find when speaking of such a personal topic to someone directly.
This anonymous Q&A system is composed of two components, the GSA Question Box and the GSA Advice Column. The question box is a physical box where students will put in hand-written questions. The advice column will be a recurring segment in the school newspaper containing the GSA’s answers and responses. The box will be located on the front table in the admin building, sitting upon a stand for easy viewing.
The Q&A system will work like so: students will use the provided slips of paper to write their questions/comments/concerns, and writing utensils will also be provided. The student will place the paper slip into the box where questions will accumulate until the next Campus pitch meeting. Once Campus begins the production of their next edition, the question box will be emptied and the GSA will get to work. Club officers and our advisor, Dr. Shapiro, the club advisor, will comb through the questions to discard anything potentially hurtful or inappropriate. Members of the GSA will respond to the remaining questions. The GSA Advice Column with all of our responses will become accessible once the latest issue of Campus is released.
In the advice column, each question will be restated and their respective answers will follow; both the questioner and responder will remain anonymous. Any questions or comments added to the box after it has been emptied will be answered in the following issue. As mentioned before, paper and writing utensils will be provided next to the box itself. A sign with guidelines will also be located next to the box.
The guidelines will include the basic instructions on how to submit a question as well as some rules and regulations. The instructions will essentially tell students to write their questions legibly before folding them and placing them into the box. Since we want to ensure anonymity, we won't allow names to be mentioned. Code names are acceptable for instances where a student has a more complex situation to explain. Folding the paper isn’t as important; it just gives extra security so people don’t accidentally see what you wrote after you place it into the box. The rules and regulations will mostly be about following common sense. Don’t say anything rude, don’t use this resource inappropriately, don’t tear up the box, don’t eat the paper, don’t steal the pencils, etc. We will also be sure to make it known in the guidelines that Dr. Shapiro will handle any and all inappropriate or insensitive comments found in our box.
Of course, this Q&A system isn’t perfect for every situation; not everyone can wait to get answers, especially if the circumstances are constantly changing. For people who want more immediate feedback and support, come to the GSA! Or just reach out to one of the club officers. You all probably know the format of student emails, so let’s list a few potential people you could reach out to: Ava Min (president), Wei Dewdney (vice president), Juliana Suarez-Lipton (creative director), Sarah Rosen (secretary), and Naomi Jeske (treasurer). You can also visit our website for more information! Just go to the EHS website, hover over the “Activities” tab, and click “Gay-Straight Alliance” on the dropdown menu. Though the GSA does a lot of projects and activities; everyone is welcome to come to our meetings just to hang out. You don’t need to make any commitments unless you want to. The GSA’s main goal is to provide queer EHS students with a safe space and to educate our cishet allies!