Taking Up the Mantle
“Love wins. Love will always win. One of the proudest moments as a teacher is to see my kids express their love for humanity”, said Carlos Chirito, teacher at Uplift Heights Secondary school and director of the school’s GSA Club (Gay Straight Alliance). The GSA club at Uplift Heights in West Dallas has a membership of over 30 students and is founded on equality and driven by love for humanity. “We want to be the generation to make the change.” Mayra, GSA Club President.
Last summer, the club began brainstorming fundraising ideas and organizations that would benefit from their efforts in the upcoming 2018/2019 school year. After much research, the students chose to give back to the community through the Dallas AIDS Walk, LifeWalk, benefiting Prism Health North Texas.
Mayra said “this is a big opportunity (LifeWalk) and something we don’t want to miss out on.”
They formed team “GSA Heights” and received in-person fundraising tips from Prism Health North Texas Events Coordinator. GSA Heights was the only team made up of all high school students. They held some impressive fundraisers at school with something for everyone, including teachers! They hosted Tamale Thursday and Taco Tuesday. The “My Mom Cooks Better Than You” fundraiser sold the teachers homemade meals for lunch. The entire school had the opportunity to dress out of uniform during Pride Week. For $2.00 each day, students could purchase a day during “Pride Week Dress Down” and wear a different color of the rainbow each day.
Gissel, GSA Club Vice President said “gay people and straight people, we’re both coming together and it’s hard for it to happen in our generation. We’re really hoping to make a change and I know that if we keep working really hard on it…we’re gonna get there.”
The GSA Club believes more awareness needs to be made about HIV/AIDS through more education and outreach to the community, as well as changing the stigma surrounding it. Alex, GSA Club Treasurer, wants to ensure other people know that “Prism Health North Texas is a place to receive help and free testing.”
These high school students want to make a difference in the community, as much as the GSA club has made a difference in their lives. Marshall, GSA Club 12th Grade Representative, said “I’m going to be famous one day…I want to create an environment where everyone is accepted and feels accepted, and everyone feels ok to be who they are.”
“They’re making a change in people’s lives and I think that is the big message, and one of the proudest moments as a teacher, to see my kids that I have known since they were 14, now stand in front of people and be able to express their love for humanity” shared Carlos.
Original version published in the Winter 2018 LifeLines magazine. To subscribe to LifeLines for in-depth articles on health and your community.