Desert Vista High School senior Summer Garvin and junior Airicka Lapre learned that hard work pays off Wednesday when they held the first meeting of the Gay-Straight Alliance club in the library after school. About 25 students and three teachers joined Garvin and Lapre that afternoon to discuss future fundraising possibilities, group activities, events and collaborations with other school clubs. "This club isn't about just gay, lesbian and bisexual students," Garvin said. "It's about collaborating with other clubs and making a difference on campus." The 17 year old transferred to Desert Vista from South High Community in Massachusetts this year. As the former president and founder of South High Community's GSA, Garvin was surprised to learn there was no group even slightly related to GSA when she began school at Desert Vista. "I immediately encountered roadblocks and resistance from the staff," said Garvin, who admits she understands the political differences between the two states. "I was informed that I would have to go through the counseling office and create the group that way. That's not what we want; we don't need to be counseled." The policy to start any club at Desert Vista involves filling out a new club packet to introduce the purpose of the group and how it will benefit Desert Vista and the community. There must be at least 10 interested students and a staff sponsor. After two months of hard work, Garvin and Lapre found Susan Schramm, a substitute teacher at Desert Vista and mother of five, to sponsor the GSA, along with support from other Desert Vista staff, including fine arts and ceramics teacher Mark Honaker. Garvin said they had no problem finding at least 10 interested students. "When I walked in to T.J. Snyder's office this time, he just gave me the paperwork and it wasn't a problem," Garvin said. "I had people e-mailing me wanting to sponsor." Schramm said Snyder, an assistant principal at Desert Vista, inspired students and teachers to get involved in the GSA. "Kids surprise you," Schramm said. "They are a lot smarter and far more interesting and excited than adults would ever give them credit for. I would like to see not only gay students but kids of gay parents and siblings of gay students in this club." Schramm said the group has not encountered any conflict from the staff since its beginning and commends Principal Anna Battle for her strong support. The GSA currently meets weekly on Wednesdays in the school library at 3:10 p.m. After events and fundraisers are scheduled, the group will meet bi-monthly. The club plans to take part in the Suicide Walk and Random Act of Kindness Day this year, as well as raise money to support charities such as AIDS Phoenix and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). For more information regarding Desert Vista's GSA, contact Garvin at summer_garvin@yahoo.com or visit the group's myspace Web site, www.myspace.com/desert_vista_gsa. Corinne Frayer can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or cfrayer@aztrib.com.

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