“If they don't feel safe,” Forester said, “they're not going to learn in that classroom.”
One of the things Forester works with her students on is how to communicate. Bullying is still an issue, and students need to know how to protect themselves and others. Other students need to know that words hurt.
“They're real people,” Forester said. “They have families. They have hopes. They have dreams. And every one if them is valuable.”
Bullying has gotten better at the school since the founding of the club, said Luis Barajas, who will be a junior this fall. Many students can feel alone and scared, he said, and the club helps build support.
Still, he said, some people will be cruel.
“People can come from really dark places, and it can inspire hate in them,” Barajas said.
Heather Stempf said club members work to curb bullying, but that it still goes on.
“Students, they're going to straight up tell you and make fun of you,” said Stempf, who graduated from Grant this year.
Stempf is straight, and her mother told the family she was gay when Stempf was in middle school. Her mother, Shannon, said her daughter's love and acceptance has meant the world.
“She supports me for who I am,” Shannon Stempf said, wiping tears.
Heather Stempf said she wants to show her classmates that she supports them, too.
“We're here to support everybody,” she said. “It's our job to make everybody feel like they have a place because everyone does have a place.”