SAGA club provides supportive space


Sophia Sanchez

LEADING THE DISCUSSION: Seniors Arlo Craft, Elissa Wechsler, and Lindsay Nixon participate in a Sexuality and Gender Acceptance (SAGA) club meeting. The three seniors are officers in the club, which exists to provide a accepting community for students to express themselves.

Sammie Thompson, Managing Editor

Senior officer Lindsay Nixon shares their experience leading the acceptance group

The familiar ringing of the school bell resounds throughout the classroom. It’s 4:35 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, and it’s time for senior Lindsay Nixon to walk to room A210 for their favorite part of the school day: SAGA club.

Nixon is an officer in the SAGA, or Sexuality and Gender Acceptance, club. The group meets after school every Wednesday to take part in bonding activities, hold discussions about topics related to sexuality and gender, and to be an accepting community for all students who walk through the door.

“I just think it’s kind of a fun thing to meet other people who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and just be able to provide a safe space,” Nixon said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something.”

According to a 2019 report from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 55% of LGBTQ+ students surveyed felt restricted from expressing themselves. While Nixon does not consider herself to be one of these students, she believes that SAGA can help those who do.

“I originally joined just because I mean, I’m gay,” Nixon said. “When I came out, I was just surrounded by love. I really wanted to make sure that everyone else who is gay could find a good place to be accepted. We mainly just want the club to be like a safe space for people who don’t feel like they have anywhere else to go.”

A new school year back in-person means new goals for the SAGA club.

“Freshman year I went to one meeting, but it just seemed kind of disorganized,” Nixon said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do this year is kind of make it a little more organized than before. It’s been at Bowie for a couple of years, but I feel like this is the first time that it’s like actually something.”

English and creative writing teacher Bree Rolfe recently took over the role of club sponsor from English teacher Chelsea McCaffrey.

“I decided to take it over because of the students who were involved,” Rolfe said. “They are really wonderful in my creative writing class and I wanted to make sure they had a safe space. Also, I have really enjoyed the community we have become. It brings me a lot of joy.”

In addition to Nixon, there are three other SAGA officers this year: seniors Elissa Wechsler, Arlo Craft, and Tennyson Tole. Wechsler has also found SAGA to be an encouraging club and group of students.

“At Bowie I’m really lucky to have a very supportive community and group of friends,” Wechsler said. “Even so, it’s very important to have a safe space to simply be around people with shared experiences and have a support group to talk and relate to.”

One of Nixon’s goals as officer is to educate students and faculty on experiences that LGBTQ+ high schoolers face. Some teachers have implemented classroom policies this year that Nixon believes should stay.

“I’ve had nothing but support and acceptance from people [at Bowie],” Nixon said. “I also do notice that a lot of teachers make efforts to be LGBTQ+ friendly. I remember filling out all the beginning of the year forms and they have stuff like, what are your pronouns and what names do you go by, and I think that’s really great.”

In addition to spreading awareness among the school population, the SAGA club holds discussions among its members to learn more about each other’s differing backgrounds.

“The most important thing about SAGA for me, aside from having the group to talk to, is making the campus as a whole more understanding and educated,” Wechsler said. “There are a lot of things I think back on about myself that weren’t very accepting or understanding and I really wish I had just understood more about the community like I do now.”

The last few weeks have been busy ones for Nixon and the other SAGA officers. LBGT History Month is celebrated in October, as well as National Coming Out Day, which was held on Oct. 11 this year.

“We went on [the announcements] for National Coming Out Day, which is a pretty big deal because it’s about accepting yourself and getting others around you to accept you,” Nixon said. “I think it’s just important to be aware that we’re people who exist and that we’re not like some distant alien species. You can’t pick a gay person out of a crowd.”

Nixon and the SAGA club have many plans for the remainder of the school year, like learning about significant figures in gay history and continuing the grow the SAGA community.

“Lindsay is so enthusiastic and excited about activism,” Rolfe said. “So far, their passion and energy has been so wonderful to witness. I believe that we will be able to accomplish a lot as a group this year.”