MENOMINEE, Mich. (WJMN) – No Name-Calling Week is a week organized by K-12 educators and students to end name-calling and bullying in schools.
Menominee High School’s To Be Me LGBTQAI+ Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Club sponsored the week-long event last week. Club members asked students and faculty to take the pledge to be more kind and accepting of one another.
“We’ve decided, even though this wasn’t this huge overwhelming success where everybody in the school signed their name to the pledge, we realized it was a success anyway,” said Club Advisor Leah Simi. “They want to do other events and they’re excited about other events throughout the year such as the Day of Silence, and other events that are tied to LGBTQ issues. And to see them gain this excitement is amazing.”
The president and vice president/secretary of the club describe what this event meant to them.
“It’s to get the students at Menominee High School to not call each other names, because especially that, not specifically associated with the LGBT community, but there are name calling issues at this school. And we really wanted to at least attempt to fix that and acknowledge the fact that we notice there are issues and that we need to stop calling people names,” said Club President Daniel Pichette.
“I just kind of hoped to maybe lessen the slurs that have been thrown around and directed at people in the high school,” said Vice President Hannah Grotto.
The group started a few years ago by the grace of a single sign above Simi’s classroom door that said “Ally” alongside the rainbow flag. This sign sparked questions and conversations about what it meant to be an ally to the LGBTQAI+ community. Students who felt left out or those who didn’t feel accepted by their peers would eat lunch in Simi’s room. This is when Simi decided that Menominee High School could use an official Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club as not only a safe area for students but as a way to educate the rest of the school on LGBTQAI+ issues.
“When we come down to it, I just want [the students] to move from having the safe space being my classroom to being to safe and inclusive place being the entire school and then eventually going bigger. Going to the entire community and then eventually I would love to hear someone say that the U.P. is a safe and inclusive space for LGBT individuals,” said Simi.
There are only a handful of GSAs in the entire Upper Peninsula. Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health has applied for a grant to get more GSA groups throughout the Upper Peninsula.