This article can be found published on the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website.
KENNETT SQUARE — It turned into a little debate between the Kennett Consolidated school board members, but when all was said and done, they unanimously approved the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club at the high school during their regular board meeting Dec. 1.
The club, started by students at the high school, was started to advocate for the LBGTQIA+ community and act as a safe place for all members to be open about themselves.
There was a little bit of a spirited debate as board member Doug Stirling was asking for some clarifications on the club.
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“Our reason for having clubs, as I understand, is to further advance their academic career and to become better students, academically speaking,” he said. “All these clubs (we have), I can see where there’s academic benefits for students who join the club. I’m trying to understand how this club can help students academically.
“I understand the support mechanism, but the common denominator is sexuality (and) sexual attraction. If it was a bullying thing, I’d understand that, but I’m trying to understand how this actually helps them do better in school.”
Others on the board could see where Stirling was coming from.
“I can see what you’re saying about academics, but it’s also about being part of a community,” said board member Rudy Alfonso.
Aline Frank had similar feelings.
“We have clubs that give students a focus on identity,” she said. “This is an important voice that we’ve always had in high school.”
In attendance at the meeting was Riley McGowan, a junior at the high school who is the student representative for the club.
“Academically, it would help students,” she said. “Studies have shown that children who are in this umbrella in this type of community are feeling unsafe at home, then they might struggle more in school because it’s harder to focus. It will help some in the classrooms. It does help build a sense of community within the school and that’s beneficial.”
After a quick review of the policy regarding extracurricular activities and some further discussions, the board came to a unanimous decision to accept the club.
It joins between roughly 60 to 70 other clubs and activities at Kennett High School.
“The point is to learn and raise awareness, giving a voice and voicing that voice is a huge part of education and making sure that our students stand up for each other, for spreading awareness and trying to spread this common goal of unity,” said Kelly Virgin, the adviser for the club. “It’s teaching these students to take that voice and figure out a way and an avenue so they can share it with other people.”
Organization of board
The Kennett Consolidated school board held its organization meeting before the regular board meeting Dec. 1 to elect the president and vice president for the 2015 year.
Kendra LaCosta was unanimously chosen as the vice president of the board while Heather Schaen was chosen for the second straight year as president.
IU board member
Alfonso was nominated and approved to serve as Kennett’s representative on the Board of the Chester County Intermediate Unit for a three-year term from July 2015 to the end of June 2018.
Dominic Perigo was recognized at the beginning of the meeting for his eight years of service on the school board.
He received a placque from Superintendent Barry Tomasetti.