LGBTQ group becomes largest club at Martinsville High School

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. -- The Gay Straight Alliance club is now officially the largest student organization at Martinsville High School.

More than 125 students have signed up to be a part of the group, which is unique due to the conservative demographics of Martinsville.

According to an article in the school's newspaper, the group was formed in the fall of 2014 right after Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned.

"The fact that such great social change can happen relatively quickly looking back in history is a great thing for everyone everywhere," junior Abby Bridgeman said Tuesday.

English teacher Shea Rafferty said she believes no one should be discriminated because they are different. She helped to coordinate the Gay Straight Alliance at the high school to provide students a judgment-free community.

"Unfortunately, traditionally, LGBTQ students have been the target of bullying.  A lot of times, students not even affiliated with LGBTQ have been called gay slurs and it has been used as a bullying tactic," Rafferty said.

Club member Kyla Harloff said she saw a void and wanted to help fill it. She is not gay, but she has friends who are. Those friends are now not afraid to speak up and speak out.

"We're such a big club. There are one or two in each classroom at a time. If somebody says something, we can tell them it’s wrong. It’s wrong to say something that is so degrading toward someone," Harloff said.

Organizers expect participation in the GSA to increase next year.

The Indiana Youth Group says there are now 82 Gay Straight Alliance clubs in schools and communities around the state and another 35 are trying to get started.

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