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Gay support group offers safe place at Oklahoma City school

U.S. Grant High School in southwest Oklahoma City is home to one of a few gay-straight student groups in the state.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: July 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm •  Published: July 23, 2013

Mireya Rivas came into the meeting annoyed. A teacher had shouted at her and her girlfriend to stop hugging in the hallway.

“There are always boys and girls making out all over there, and nobody says anything to them,” Rivas told her classmates.

That's not the point, said Taylor Forester, a music teacher and sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance student group at U.S. Grant High School.

Forester sat on a stool behind a grand piano. Students dotted the risers in the chilly choir room.

Even if the teacher was prejudiced, Forester said, the students were breaking the rules about public displays of affection.

“What we can do is reply with kindness,” Forester said.

U.S. Grant High School is home to one of Oklahoma's few support clubs for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

There's plenty of regular club talk — parties, T-shirts, projects. But the students are keenly interested in educating their peers and reaching out to younger people.

“There are lots of people out there who need a safe place,” said Rivas, who graduated from Grant this May. Rivas said she is bisexual. “There should be a place in school where you can be OK with who you are.”

Offering inspiration

Forester teaches them about successful people who are gay, hoping to offer a little inspiration regardless of what career her students enter. This day, she talked about Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican artist who was bisexual.

“Oh!” called out one student. “She's the one with the unibrow!”

The group laughed and then crowded around Forester's computer to see picture of Kahlo's paintings.

Forester said she's proud that many teachers are supportive of the group and the students. Students who feel attacked or unwelcome can't focus, the teacher said.

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