SBDM approves first GSA at Highlands High School at July meeting


Yesterday, the Highlands High School Site-Based Decision Making Council (SBDM) approved the establishment of a chapter of a Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) at Highlands High School beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. GSA had been initially presented for approval at the June 2021 meeting. 

Much of the opening public comment included discussion over the new GSA club including thank yous from former students, parents, and staff. 

Kara Uhl, a parent of incoming sixth and eighth-grade students, discussed how suicide deeply affected her family and how her children witnessed hateful comments from other students in elementary schools and middle school. 

Uhl said GSA would be a “soft landing pad for students,” and a “perfect example of teaching and loving.” 

Highlands High School teachers and GSA club sponsors, Kelly Booth and Angie Gintonio, also answered several questions from the SBDM members. 

Booth cleared up some confusion on the supervision over the club. Booth reassured many that GSA would very much have a clear focus. 

Booth said, “Our students are defining activism very differently. They’re seeing activism as supporting queer-run businesses, for example. I think they have some very positive ideas on how to activate change.” 

With that in mind, Darnell granted the club a one-year probationary period. There will also not be any group meetings between the middle school and high school GSAs. 

Outgoing assistant principal Jeff Schneider also provided changes to the student handbook, specifically in the areas of student absences. There will no longer be “verified” absences for activities. The policy will return to excused and unexcused absences. 

The next Highlands High School SBDM meeting will be held in August.