Updated: May 20, 2022
Newport Out intern Myka Richard has interviewed 4 LGBTQ+ youth groups in Newport County. He asked them why their groups are important to them and their accomplishments. We intend to add to this blog with more groups and we would appreciate our community's input! If you have information about a group we have not mentioned feel free to send us a message through Instagram, or Facebook, or email us at email@example.com.
Special thanks to our East Bay MET School intern Myka for his hard work on this blog!
Rogers High School GSA, led by Jennifer Culpepper:
The goal of Rogers’ GSA is to “celebrate the LGBTQ+ and ally community within RHS and to make our school environment one of safety, inclusion and respect for all LGBTQ+ students.” The group started in January 2021 and had to go virtual because of covid but that didn’t stop them from growing. Their recent accomplishments include: representing at the Pride Flag-Raising at Newport City Hall, hosting a table at Newport Pride 2021, GSA students designing "Viking Pride'' T-Shirts and Stickers for RHS, and the school now has a pride flag hanging in the main office hallway! Rogers students say that the GSA is a “nonjudgmental space where you don't have to worry about being accepted.” More students say “You can be gay and unafraid” as well as “we can just relax and have fun.” The Rogers GSA hopes to grow in numbers this year and “establish a strong sense of queer pride within our school community.”With so many accomplishments so far, Rogers is bound to continue thriving this year and the next!
MLK Community Centers group LEAD (Love, Equality, Acceptance, Dreams), led by Melanie Saunders:
The goal of LEAD is to “eliminate the shame that is sometimes felt in some gender and sexual identities. The group is intended to create a safe space for young people to connect with others who share similar experiences. We have conversations about labels, feelings of safety, and identities – all of which is to create a sense of community free of shame. It is also a goal to reach more kids across Newport County,” says leader Melanie Saunders. LEAD was started in early July 2021 with original facilitator Mirasia Cassese, who is now pursuing a career in social work. The group started in June 2021 to give a safe space to those who were losing their school GSAs due to summer break. The group has made lots of accomplishments including consistent meetings, establishing safe connections in the community, attending Pride: In Retrospect, and having made connections with different school GSAs. They have also established the Dr. Martin Luther King Center as a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth. Melanie states, “L.E.A.D. stands for Love, Equity, Acceptance, Dreams, and each of those words are integral to how we conduct the group. L.E.A.D. is important to me because it gives queer kids the opportunity to create community, express themselves, and experience joy. In the group, they’re able to celebrate their queerness in a way that they may not be able to at school or home.” The group’s goal for this year is to have a big presence at Newport Pride and continue its growth. LEAD is a great group for youth in Newport to get support for anything related to their queer identity. For more information, contact Melanie at the MLK Community Center at (401) 846-4828.
From Jo Norton at the East Bay MET, leader or GLOW (gay, lesbian, or whatever):
The goal of GLOW is “to bring the LGBTQ+ community and their allies together.” GLOW was originally a group at The MET but stopped running in 2017. Jo started the group back up in Oct of 2021. She says: “I noticed such a large population of our students are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum and had no protected opportunity to collaborate with and support one another. The presence of GLOW provides our students with a safe space to create community and discuss topics pertaining to gender, sexuality, and other relevant issues.” So far the group has done some work around coming out and learning about LGBTQ+ history such as the stonewall riots. Their hopes for this year include establishing a “family”, having fun, and attending LGBTQ+ events. Jo says, “My hope is that students leave for the summer feeling like they will have a supportive community to return to and a clear direction of what they want GLOW to transform into over the next few years.” We are so glad GLOW is finally back and can meet together in person with their fellow LGBTQ+ students!
From Thompson Middle Schools’ GSA, run by Laura Clarke:
Thompson's GSA students say the goal of their group is to “Have fun. Foster. Inclusion and caring and compassion. Teach others about the LGBT community. Try to eliminate homophobia. Normalize inclusivity.” The group ran for 2 years and went virtually when covid hit. One student states, “My GSA is important to me because it is a place where I can feel safe.” The group’s accomplishments include educating other students about the community, making connections/supporting each other, and growing inclusivity. Another student says they hope to “make a presentation on LGBTQ and present them in class.” Thompson ranges from grades 5 to 8, at this age learning about respecting each other is extremely important. It is incredible to see a GSA educating students about the LGBTQ community and how to respect others in our community. With 2 years strong, we hope to see the Thompson Middle School make it to a 3rd! Keep up the great work for our Newport community.
From St. Michaels Country Day School GSA, run by Scott Travers:
Scott says that the goal of his group is “to discuss different ways we can make the school/school community more inclusive when it comes to LGBTQIA+ related topics.” The group was started in October of this year. The group states, “This group is important to me because it is very welcoming and relaxed. It is a comfortable space and everyone is super supportive and friendly. We have fun, while also discussing important topics and what we can do to be more inclusive as a student body.” The group’s accomplishments include making a safe space for LGBTQ students, spreading awareness, and educating about the use of pronouns in school. This year they would like "to be 110% inclusive as a school community." The St Michaels Country Day School goes from toddlers-eighth grade. It is great to see this education be taught to a wide range of ages!
Love Wins Little Compton, from Jenna Magnuski
Jenna says that the goal of Love Wins LC is "to nurture a more welcoming, safe, inclusive, and equitable environment in Little Compton for people of all sexual and gender identities." They say that LWLC is important to them because "it allows me to contribute to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment for all people in my town, positively impacting and strengthening my community and the state." After running for 18 months, they have accomplished plenty. They had the first LC Pride Celebration last year with over 300 attendees, a book club, a jar coin drive, partnered with Progreso Latino (another nonprofit from Central Falls) for a food drive on various occasions, and they host a monthly youth night free of charge. Their hopes for the future are to grow the love in Little Compton and continue to create a welcoming community. With such success so far, Love Wins Little Compton is sure to continue on to grow and bring people together.
Big thanks to Jennifer Culpepper, Mirasia Cassese, Melanie Saunders, Jo Norton, Laura Clarke + her students, Scott Travers + his students, and Jenna Magnuski for helping make this article possible!