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September 23, 2022

Healdsburg High School GSA paints mural as part of revitalization

After the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down activities and engagement, members of Healdsburg High School’s (HHS) Genders and Sexualities Alliance decided to revamp the club’s visibility not only through their actions, but with a brand new mural.

HHS seniors Molly Miller and Liam O’Gorman wanted the club to keep going and hopefully stay active after they graduate. Miller said her sister and a friend created the club around 2017/2018. Back then a drag show among other events were featured but Miller said once that class graduated the club nearly died out.

They started to interact over Zoom during the pandemic and played video games. Now they are more active in person.

“There should just be clubs that people can feel like they can be themselves in and clubs that people feel that they belong in — I feel it just constitutes a more welcoming community. Because without (the club), I feel a lot of people might feel a little more on the outside,” said Bella Lynch.

“The representation that we provide for students, it’s important to see other students in their community thriving and doing well with their community and working with each other and just being surrounded by people who know what you’re going through,” O’Gorman said.

Miller said the GSA also has access to resources and organizations across Sonoma County for students who might need it.

“It’s more about providing support and bringing together the community,” she said.

In a collaborative effort with Raizes Collective, a wall that used to be plain now features a mural put together by the GSA that depicts a heart with colorful rainbow flags around it.

Lynch was in charge of the design of the mural but had help from other members; everyone agreed with her sketch but the approval and funding took a while.

“I’m so happy that it’s there. I mean, just walking in that courtyard and down that hallway,” Lynch said.

“It brings me joy everyday,” O’Gorman said. “I was thinking in general people are using that courtyard more, a much more lively area for people to eat at.”

Lynch added art is a way to bring people together which is why they wanted more of it. In the near future, the club plants to host a community picnic with queer families and youth. They hope to host it late April or early May. On June 3, the GSA will host a Pride Month event while also helping West County High School with its gay prom event on June 11.

Adviser Kay Rivers is part of the board of Petaluma Pride and said they discussed how to collaborate more together. Currently, the high school GSA and the junior high have been in close collaboration to work together on events and maintain the excitement of the club. The hope is for younger students to keep the club going once current members graduate.

Rivers added the club has been advocating for bathroom signs which are gender inclusive. Currently, there were three sets of boys and girls bathrooms and one designated for students who needed it, but the student would have to ask for the keys to open it.

“We had a long conversation about how that really separates a kid and kind of calls them out,” Rivers said.

“But in this way, everyone is represented, everyone is honored and everyone has a safe place to not only use the restroom,” she said.

Rivers made the request in August and said that the process of creating the signs has started but hasn’t finished yet.

“I’m not saying that it’s actively not happening. I’m just saying it hasn’t happened yet. I feel like that action speaks volumes to the LGBTQ kids here at the school,” Rivers said.