LGBTQ+ community embraces their diversity at WJ

Maram Faragallah

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Photo by Maram Faragallah

Senior Lucille Bengston, President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and Bradley Woodside, Vice President, explain LGBTQ+ news to the club.

Senior Patrick Ibanez was afraid of coming out in WJ but felt better after seeing that people were cool with it. WJ is known for being a generally inclusive community where being a member of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t stigmatized. Students are always working to make their fellow peers more open about their sexuality and accepted for what makes them unique.

Seniors Lucille Bengston, president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and Tena Karpatikan believe that the administration is always trying to improve when it comes to LQBTQ+ issues. Administration does so by adding gender-neutral bathrooms, enforcing correct pronoun usage and removing gender specifics from senior superlatives.

“WJ is diverse, but every person I talked to has had some negative experience, but compared to other places in the country we’re good. We definitely have more work to do, but it isn’t bad,” Bengston said.

Junior Graciela Luna believes that although there’s general acceptance in WJ, there are still issues that students should work on, such as increasing the diversity of friend groups.

“I definitely can’t speak for the entire LGBTQ+ here, only my own experience, because everyone is different and experience reactions to being a part of the community differently. There’s certainly some homophobic comments sometimes, but I’ve not experienced many homophobic things personally. I think it’s a pretty accepting school,” Luna said.

Issues facing the LGBTQ+ community at WJ also include a lack of LGBTQ+ history in education. For example, students don’t study literature books written by LGBTQ+ writers and history classes barely scratch the surface.

“Teachers need a push to use pronouns. More gender-neutral bathrooms. More education in health class. There’s generally very little education in other classes. We don’t read any books about it in English class. We don’t learn about it in history,” Karpatikan said.

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance is a club that provides a safe place for members of the community to talk about their issues and homophobia they face in life. They also provide more education and awareness of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Every week we have a meeting where we talk about current events or topics of the week where there’s an open discussion that everyone contributes in. We also educate on LGBTQ+ history and issues because we don’t get to do that in class,” Bengston said.

Despite the many improvements that could be made, most students believe WJ is still a rather diverse community that tries to accept everyone.

“Personally I don’t think one should be defined by their sexuality, but for who they are as a person. It doesn’t matter who people are attracted to, what people at WJ care about is you being the best you can be,” senior Patrick Ibanez said.