2021 marks the 28th year since the founding of the FVHS GSA. (Photo by Cate Meister)
Fountain Valley High School

The GSA continues to thrive nearly three decades since founding

Fountain Valley High School’s Gender Sexuality Alliance is a club for all students. Designed to operate as a support club, students can expect to find an accepting network of classmates, open conversations about LGBTQ+ topics and an inclusive atmosphere at an average GSA meeting.

“[The GSA is] really important because it allows students, regardless of whether or not they’re in the club, to feel supported,” said junior Judy Liu, who is president of the club. “People [should] know that they have some form of support on campus, even if they’re not a part of [the GSA].”

The club is inclusive to all genders and sexualities. Allies are welcome to join the club as well, as the GSA Instagram page states, “you don’t have to be queer to be here.”

But the club’s success wasn’t easy to come by. In 1994, the Fountain Valley Student Alliance became the first officially-recognized GSA (historically meaning Gay-Straight Alliance) in Orange County; however, the club’s journey wasn’t easy.

The original alliance started out in 1993 as small, informal gatherings for students to connect with each other in a safe space for teens of all sexual orientations. Eventually, more students and staff became aware of the club’s existence, sparking intense and heated debates.

The opposition culminated in a group that referred to themselves as the Future Good Boys of America.The group, which was staunchly anti-gay, attended FVSA meetings in attempts to intimidate members and later fronted protests against the club’s presence on campus. In November of 1993, objection to the FVSA came to a peak when some 150 students left class in order to protest.

However, the club had a significant group of supporters as well. Former FVHS English teachers Michael Poff and Christine Baron were the club’s original advisors and voiced firm support for its members. The FVSA also found an ally in former football coach Mike Henigan. Henigan was inspired by his son, who was gay, to express his appreciation of the club, encouraging his players to do the same. Former Principal Gary Ernst defended the club’s right to assemble as well.

“Our goal is to create tolerance of diversity, not antagonism,” Ernst said in a 1993 interview.

In January of 1994, the HBUHSD board voted to allow the FVSA to continue to meet as an official club, forming the roots of the modern GSA.

The allyship during the time of the club’s founding also holds a message that is still applicable, according to Liu, who hopes to continue the legacy of the GSA members that came before her.

“[The GSA] continues to thrive as a result of our community working together to resist…homophobia,” Liu said. “[It’s important to] be a good ally to everyone because you should be caring about other people.”

The FVHS GSA meets at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and is open to all grade levels.