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Strengthening the Gay Straight Alliance

Local teen breathes new life into LOHS club

Spencer Schillinger was among a host of freshmen roving the hallways of Lake Oswego High during club rush a couple of years ago.Spencer Schillinger

Stepping past several school organizations’ booths, Schillinger came across the Gay Straight Alliance.

“I thought: ‘I should be a part of that,’” he said.

Last year, the club went dormant with its two members holding maybe two meetings. This year, Schillinger, now a junior and the club president, revived the alliance. The group now meets twice per week, and about 10 members are regulars. Schillinger also plans to hold a movie night and take his group to a conference in Portland.

Dan Kumprey, the club’s adviser, attributes the growth to the way Schillinger treats his fellow students.

“Spencer is a very easygoing, nonjudgmental, positive person,” said Kumprey, an LOHS counselor and math teacher. “He created a very welcoming atmosphere.”

The group is open to students of all genders — male, female, neutral — and its members are straight, bisexual, lesbian, gay, transgender, asexual and pansexual, which means open to dating all genders.

“The first time I came to the club, I was pretty nervous,” said Alec North, sophomore. “But (there were) a whole bunch of really supportive people. ... Most of the time, we’re goofing off and having fun, but if we want to be serious, we can.”

Not everyone is respectful of the Gay Straight Alliance — someone tore down a few of the club’s posters last year, Kumprey said. In case the posters were torn down this year, students posted messages underneath them saying things such as “You just committed an act of intolerance” and “It’s better to love than hate.”

Doing so also provided a learning opportunity for alliance members, Kumprey said.

“It’s important to try to be aware of the fact that responding in kind, which is violently, isn’t constructive,” he said.

Lesson learned. Schillinger said unpleasant incidents do happen, but: “It’s better to respond positively.”

No one damaged the posters this year, and LOHS junior Seneca Kolander said she believes group members would stand by each other if anyone ever spoke rudely to them. Kolander said her previous school had a lot of bullies.

“This one is a lot more supportive,” she said.

Jillian Daley can be reached at jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.


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