Queer-Straight Alliance withstands test of time

By MEGHAN O’NEAL/Montana State News

“We are the Queer-Straight Alliance, a student-run organization devoted to developing community, fostering education, and empowering action.”

And this is exactly what they do.

From its beginnings 30 years ago, QSA has worked to bring empowerment to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community at MSU as well as spread awareness to the MSU population.

QSA does not stay within the borders of Montana State University, however. Numerous high schools and universities across the United States also support their own Queer-Straight Alliance, including the University of Montana.

The first QSA began in 1988 by Ken Jennings at the Concord Academy in Massachusetts. From there, other schools began adopting the organization. However, they were not without opposition. Multiple high schools and universities at first did not allow the organization on their campuses.

In one instance, the Orange Unified School District in Orange County,  Calif., the school board voted unanimously to disband QSA. The students rallied together and sued the board for infringement of their First Amendment rights. The judge ruled in their favor and the group was allowed to continue. This was the first ruling of  its kind and set the precedent to allow other Queer-Straight Alliances to live on within other schools.

Although QSA is still predominately in the United States, it has begun to grow internationally. For example, within the United Kingdom multiple individual groups supporting Gay rights have surfaced, but nothing concrete. The first  United Kingdom QSA was formed in 2012 by Copeland Community School in Wembley with great success.

QSA MSU has made its own strides during its 30-year existence. This year alone, QSA has put on multiple successful events, including their semi-annual Charity Drag Show, the Rainbow Ball, a smaller drag show combined with a dance (Bozeman’s Gay Prom), and celebrating National Coming Out Day, a nationally observed day for the discussion and awareness for those who have newly “come out.” The 2011 Fall Charity Drag Show raised over $3,500. These events serve to provide a safe atmosphere for all MSU students to interact and have fun as well as raise money for other QSA events.

QSA meets Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Strand Union Building room 233. Everyone is always welcome.

Edited by Brianna Schutz.

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