Pride at Livermore High: LGBTQI+ Inclusion

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Over the past few years, the world’s views on LGBTQI+ individuals have changed. People are more accepting of different sexualities and gender identities.

Regardless of the world’s views changing, high school can still be an intimidating place for students who are members of the LGBTQI+ community. There are a multitude of students at Livermore High School who do not fit into a ‘white or black’ box of gender or sexuality. 

There are many clubs around campus whose members are LGBTQI+ students, but one stands out because it focuses on bringing together these individuals. This clubs is known as SAGA, which is an acronym for Sexuality and Gender Awareness. SAGA meets in room 408 on Mondays and everyone is welcome. SAGA’s main goal, stated by this school year’s club president, Erin Nelson (12), is to “Provide a place for the LGBTQ+  community and allies.” SAGA offers opportunities for members to participate in events- such as Pride Parades and give back to the community by doing community service.

Eren Nelson (12)
Nelson is the 2019-2020 school-year SAGA president.

Nelson believes that LHS is an inclusive school. When asked what the school does well in including members of the LGBTQ+ student community, Nelson stated, “They allow trans students to use lockers or restrooms.” LHS is required to do this under California law. A law passed in 2013 allows for transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms throughout a campus that reflect their gender identity.

Nelson explained that some improvements can still be worked towards. Nelson stated that there are, “…some teachers and students who are not accepting or are prejudiced.” Nelson believes that the school can improve this by “cracking down — especially on teachers.” Nelson did not go into further comment about which teachers may be prejudiced.

Rhiannon San Miguel (grade 9) heard about SAGA through a friend and decided to start attending meetings on Sep. 30. According to San Miguel, the school is accepting and “I surprisingly have a lot of friends who support [me].” Even though her view on LHS and its inclusivity is positive, San Miguel believes there is some room for improvement. One of her ideas includes having multi-gender sports. It would not matter if one identified as a boy or a girl, they could still play in a mixed gender sport. San Miguel also added that she wishes the stigmas on playing certain sports would cease. She said she quit playing baseball, a sport she enjoyed, because she was called derogatory names by her teammates. These names made fun of her sexuality and she grew upset. San Miguel did not go into detail about whether or not her coach knew about these conflicts or what steps they took to try and stop it from happening.

Rhiannon San Miguel (9)
San Miguel is a member of SAGA. She was nervous to attend at first but quickly relaxed.

Alexcis Rious (grade 9) attended SAGA for the first time with San Miguel on Sept. 30. He has said that the school is accepting and that he faces no adversity from any other students at the school. However, when asked if he felt safe going to someone for help if he ever was harassed, Rious said that was “a hard question,” for him to answer. He did not provide further comments on why that is, but he did provide a suggestion on how the school could improve. Rious believes that teachers should try encouraging students to participate in activities they enjoy.

Alexcis Rious (9)
Rious is a member of SAGA. He is pleased that the school accepts him.

Some students interviewed chose to remain anonymous. One student (grade 9) heard about SAGA through announcements over the intercom and through some of their friends. When asked why they preferred to remain anonymous, they stated: “I’d just prefer to not have people know.” The student did not give concrete reasons why they chose to remain anonymous, but they did explain that this did not have to do with the student body at LHS.  They do not face any conflicts at school and see it as a safe environment.

Another student (9) said that they were choosing to remain anonymous because of their parents’ lack of support. They explained that they felt unsupported when their parents grew upset once they found a flyer for SAGA that they had brought home from Freshman Orientation. This students added that they felt comfortable at school as long as their attendance to SAGA was not discussed outside of the club. This student feels accepted at school and mentioned that, “a lot of people are accepting, cool, and understanding.” They choose to surround themselves with these groups that give them their support.

It isn’t just the students who notice the benefits of clubs such as SAGA. This year’s teacher advisor, Carol Myllenbeck, oversees the SAGA meetings and has only positive things to say about the club. 

This being her third year teaching at LHS, she has seen the club’s name transition from the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) to SAGA and has witnessed the effect the club has on the students who attend the meetings. When asked if she thought the club gave the students somewhere safe to be, Myllenbeck simply answered, “Exactly.” 

Myllenbeck stated, ”They just have a lot of fun together at lunch,” and went on to compliment the students’ personalities and interactions with one another.

Mallory Rowe (12) Rowe is a member of SAGA and holds the Pride flag with joy.
Emily Ballin (11) Ballin is a member of SAGA and welcomes everyone who walks into the meetings with a smile on her face.
Jordyn Wardlaw (12) (carries) Taryn Granger (10)