SAGA’s next chapter: Club returns to offer support for LGBTQ youth


Jillian Grimes

AUTHENTIC SELF: Asking someone’s pronouns is a great way to get to know them and their identify by even first interaction. 25% of LGBTQ youth exclusively use they/them pronouns, a combination of he/him, she/her or they/them or neopronouns such as ze/zir, according to a survey by The Trevor Project.

5.6% of adults in America say they identify as LGBTQ when given a survey by Gallup, a global analytics and device firm. Younger generations have an increased percentage of people that consider themselves as something other than heterosexual, 15.9 percent of adult Gen Z identify with a label under the LGBT umbrella–almost double the previous generation, Millennials, with 9.1 percent that associate their identity with LGBTQ. 

With this increase in self-expression came a rise in bullying, especially in the LGBTQ youth community. 52% of LGBTQ students enrolled in middle/high school have communicated that they have experienced bullying in the last year as of October 2021, either in person or electronically, as reported by The Trevor Project

And this influx of bullying comes a drastic increase in suicide attempts, a total of 35% of LGBTQ high school students have attempted suicide. While two years of data isn’t enough to provide a trend, Amy Green the Clinical Psychologist and director of research at The Trevor Project says that “the numbers are high and staying high, in terms of mental health.” (as reported in 2020). 

Everyone was really excited . It’s nice to have a safe place in the school. My favorite part was just meeting other people [with] who I could find solidarity with, that I wouldn’t have met without it.

— Kayla Belt, Senior


What to take away from this information is that LGBTQ youth need support, from people inside their community and outside. SAGA is a great way for students to have a support system within a school setting that could even continue to an out-of-school setting. 

SAGA, the Sexuality And Gender Acceptance club provided at both middle school and high school levels, is an open, safe space for queer and transgender students to meet and discuss social issues, get advice and support, along with making new friends. The SAGA club is an evidence-based program that supports students who are already vulnerable. 

While we have only had two meetings, it was so incredibly impactful to see students feel comfortable enough to share their identities unapologetically,” first-year co-advisor of SAGA and CHS science teacher Christina Zeigler said. “There was so much laughter and liveliness in the room!”

Other first-year co-advisor and CHS math teacher Matty Bussilo said, “I really enjoy the energy the students I’ve worked with bring to our meetings. While things seem to have improved over time, generally speaking, many LGBTQ+ youths still face may numerous hardships in their day-to-day lives.”

Senior Kayla Belt, who attended SAGA, said  “Everyone was really excited. It’s nice to have a safe place in the school. My favorite part was just meeting other people who I could find solidarity with, that I wouldn’t have met without it.” 

Last school year, SAGA was unable to meet due to COVID restrictions/quarantine(s), which took valuable time from students to participate in activities they enjoy.

Zeigler said, “I think that not having SAGA, and clubs in general, took away some really important time that students got to spend socializing with each other, which definitely played into the increase in mental health concerns of students.” 

Bussilo says that his goal for working with SAGA is “to provide a safe place, where our LGBTQ+ students can find a welcoming supportive environment, connect with allies, and affect positive change in our community.”

SAGA’s first meeting has already passed since January 24, but new members are welcome. SAGA will hold a meeting every 6th-period Bison Block and every other Wednesday for after-school sessions. You may receive a permanent pass to SAGA with the remaining dates of their 6th-period Bison Block meetings from Zeigler. See Zeigler in C150 or Bussilo in E212 with any questions regarding SAGA.