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The Masco Messenger

The Masco Messenger

The Masco Messenger


   The Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club had middle school music teacher Michael Ando come and speak to its members on the topic of being queer in the workplace.

Ando wanted to talk to the GSA to take part and contribute his ideas after hearing about the initiatives and projects they do. 

“I was hoping to help be a reliable voice to the group and help them navigate this crazy time in their lives,” said Ando.

The topic of being queer in the workplace was the one Ando wanted to discuss with the GSA club because he feels there is often a lack of representation of queer voices in the workplace, especially in school settings.

“To many, it is seen as taboo, but to me and many others, it is an integral part of our identities and our lives,” said Ando. “I wanted to make sure that the Masco GSA members had a chance to talk to someone who had a similar experience to them.”

GSA member sophomore Leo Peiken feels that discussions like this are essential as students begin to transition into a new stage of life.

“I have had to deal with this already, and I can say for sure that having guidance is extremely important,” said Peiken.

Junior Anjo Kordis also believes that these conversations are important to be had with high school students as they move onto the next stage in their lives.

“When you’re working with people that you’re always in close contact with and you have the ability to have closer conversations, I think it’s important for students to be aware of what to do to keep themselves safe, especially when you’re queer, in order to minimize any resentment from other people due to your identity,” he said. 

Ando believes that the best way to prepare for being in the workplace is to research and find information.

“This can apply to both work and college,” said Ando. “Figure out if the school or company has any affinity groups or initiatives, as well as mental health support for students or employees.”

For Peiken, a key takeaway from the talk was the knowledge that employers aren’t owed any information surrounding someone’s identity.

“To have someone tell me that I don’t have to share when I am not ready, and if I do want to that I can share how I want and when I want, means a lot,” said Peiken.

Kordis believes that Ando offering to be there to help was a kind gesture.

“To say to these students that ‘if you need an adult you can come to me’, I thought that was very admirable and definitely helpful for the other students and just the community in general,” said Kordis.

It is very important to Ando that this type of dialogue continues so students are made more aware of resources that are available to them.

“Your identity follows you everywhere, both for the good and the bad,” said Ando. “It is important for all students, even if they do not have a queer identity, to know what kinds of resources there are to help support their wellbeing both in college and at their work.”

Peiken sees these talks as ways to help the students who may not be able to attend GSA club.

“By having talks like these, it opens the door to people who want to know how to survive in a cis-hetero normative society like our own, but are unable to come [to the meetings] regularly,” said Peiken.

Kordis believes that more talks that include sexuality and gender can help students to feel validated and have support where they may not have it.

“Seeing more people around you and being exposed to a queer speaker and talking about these topics would benefit [students] in affirming their identity or they can even try to reach out to these people and it gives them an inspiration that they maybe weren’t allowed to have access to,” said Kordis. “It gives them another person they may be able to confide in and trust and talk about these things with.”

Kordis said that talks like these are good not just for the LGBTQ students, but for students as a whole.

“More talks like the talk with Mr. Ando or any speakers at Masco relating to the topics of gender and sexuality could really benefit certain students who have a really closed mind,” said Kordis, “and even if they walk out of that talk or assembly still with that closed mindset, I think they can still benefit in the way that they have more exposure to these things.”

The talk and discussions of the topic of being queer in the workplace had a positive impact on the GSA club. After the success with having Ando come and talk, the club hopes to be able to reach out and invite more guest speakers to have conversations with its members in the upcoming years.

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