Local interest sparks new hope for LGBTQ+ acceptance

As anti-LGBTQ+ bills create an increasingly turbulent political climate, more people approaching Souderton’s Gay-Straight Alliance highlights a strong shift in acceptance.


Through conversing with LGBTQ+ Souderton students, school and community members wanting to understand how to be more accepting showcases a transition in LGBTQ+ acceptance amidst a changing political culture.
The high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) was first founded in 2004 with a group of LGBTQ+ students that were interested in forming a club centered around creating community with fellow LGBTQ+ members.
However, the GSA has changed its aim as an organization since 2004, shifting to discussing political topics such as transphobic political actions during meetings.
Along with this transition in club focus, national queer-related conversations have shifted to groups becoming increasingly interested in forming alliances with the LGBTQ+ community. Whether it be for pure passion of acceptance, or for the ‘trend’ of appearing inclusive, the conversations are still occurring and they have trickled down to Souderton as a school district and a community.
One of these debates is how to integrate transgender students into an educational environment. This discussion has different outcomes, unfortunately a majority of them are negative reactions to the idea of an accepting setting. The ripple effect of these conversations from a national level to a state and local level is a real-time example of changes in national civil rights, both for better and for worse.
Looking back on previous years as compared to now, the gradual transition from sentiments like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to open conversations about sexuality and gender identity is a change for the better.
Souderton’s GSA has experienced a change in aim to accommodate for more guests looking to become more accessible to all identities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. This small-scale peak in interest at Souderton represents a larger change in society towards acceptance of people who diverge from the societal expectation of identity.
Regardless of one’s identity either in or out of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to remember that 2004’s environment is much different than 2022’s environment.
Judgment and prejudices about LGBTQ+ people still exist but they are decreasing as more people become aware of the harmful physical effects that words can cause. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2021 at least 57 transgender people passed away due to this prejudiced violence. This number is light in comparison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s number of 1,299 sexual orientation hate crimes in 2000. Changes, although small, need to be recognized as such. Society has seen changes with ideas like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and harmful queer representation eventually fade into unpopularity.
In 2022, Souderton has seen this evolution through acceptance of the GSA and activities that the organization does with the school. While Souderton is moving forward from the past, remembering where everyone came from and how much everyone has grown is important for growing further into an accepting community.