Park City High School Gay Straight Alliance starts adult education courses

Students will teach parents and teachers about gender and sexuality

Members of the PCHS GSA will teach adult education courses next month. From left: Kevin Bouldin, Alex Renola, Adam Herbst, Laine McKibbin, Faith Staley and Alicia Whitty. Not pictured: Zoe Heiden.
Carolyn Webber/The Park Record

When some members of the Park City High School Gay Straight Alliance came out as gay, lesbian or bi-sexual, their parents did not know what to do. One told her daughter that she could accept heterosexual or homosexual behaviors but not in-between. The other told her daughter that she would eventually, “figure it out.”

That is why the school’s Gay Straight Alliance is creating adult education courses in order to teach parents and teachers how to have appropriate conversations with their children about gender and sexuality. These courses will begin in October and will run throughout the school year.

“Generally, the population isn’t really aware of things like pronouns and the idea that there are more than two genders, so it’s just kind of adopting a more inclusive environment for all identities,” said Kevin Bouldin, 17, outreach coordinator for the club.

Students and local experts will teach courses about gender fluidity, the use of pronouns and conversation tips for when someone comes out as LGBTQ. The club’s board will teach each class, along with guest lecturers from the community. Each course will be given at the high school two to three times so that any adult who misses one can attend another. No date has been set yet, but it will be announced on Facebook and in the email group.

Laine McKibbin, 16, gender and sexuality educator for the club, said there is something for any adult, even if they are struggling with their own gender or sexual identities.

“We want parents whose kids have kind of freshly come out to them so they can go out and learn about it more on their own and take their own initiative, but then also just anybody in general,” McKibbin said. “It’s really important for parents to understand what their kids are going through.”

Gender fluidity education has moved to the forefront of the LGBTQ community in recent years, especially with such issues as gender in public bathrooms. These questions, paired with a lack of knowledge from teachers about what words are offensive to LGBTQ students, proved to the club that it was time to stand up and educate, said Faith Staley, 17, president of the club. For many adults, transitioning to using different pronouns or questioning social gender norms does not come easily.

“We understand that it’s confusing and difficult to question those deep cultural beliefs. That’s why we’re here and why we’re not going to jump down your throat if you don’t know what non-binary is. We’re here to teach,” Staley said.

Alex Renola, 17, communication coordinator for the club, added, “We’re not here to change the views of anybody, but to start the conversation, because that’s how real change happens. It starts by integrating it into their normal conversations.”

The GSA is also reaching out to teachers this year in a staff and faculty meeting scheduled for this fall. The club’s board, which manages a total of 189 members, noticed that many derogatory terms toward the LGBTQ community often go un-checked in classrooms.

“Sometimes we see slander or disregard going on in classrooms, and the teachers don’t recognize how to handle it so they don’t do anything,” Renola said. “For kids who do know how to deal with it, it’s not our position to step up and tell a student that they’re doing something wrong, because we’re their peer, not their superior.”

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