As states across the country pass anti-gay legislation targeting schools, the city of Boston is doing the opposite. Officials are making sure queer young people have a safe place at school, and they are on a mission to spread the word.
Quincey Roberts, the inaugural executive director for Boston's Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement, is visiting some of the city's 30 public high schools to promote student-led Gay-Straight Alliances, also known as Gender-Sexuality Alliances.
Under state law, high schools in Massachusetts are required to have a GSA if students want it, but Roberts said not many are aware that the law exists.
"The law is already on the books, so now, we need to enforce it and create safe spaces for our young folks," Roberts said.
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Roberts and other Boston city officials spoke at Boston Arts Academy Tuesday as part of their tour of schools. They are also announcing resources for GSAs and Beyond Pride Mini-Grants, which the city is giving to individuals and LGBTQ+-centered organizations that empower the community.
"This is a city for all people, and this is just one step in the right direction to make sure that happens," Roberts said.
It is already happening at Boston Latin Academy, where sophomore Jevon Williams started a GSA to build community.
"Because I know how it feels and I know how it can feel to have nowhere to turn," Williams said.
Williams, who went through a tough journey coming out in elementary school, said he is blown away by how many students show up every week to participate in the GSA. He hopes the group can be a model for the rest of the city and beyond.
"It isn't just a place to talk," Williams said. "It's more of a place to say our voice is ready to be heard."
The Amplify GSA campaign will be featured at Boston Celtics Pride Night on March 3.