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Stettler students fit into Teens for Jeans fundraiser

William E Hay Composite High School’s new gay-straight alliance (GSA) has been busy since forming last June.
Shea Heatherington and Jennifer Taylor surround jeans they’ve collected for the Teens for Jeans fundraiser.

William E Hay Composite High School’s new gay-straight alliance (GSA) has been busy since forming last June. The group has about 12 members who have begun various projects throughout the school to improve life and raise awareness for all students.

“A couple of my colleagues and I saw a need to work to build an alliance between gay and straight students,” said Doug Gregory, a teacher at the school. “We had some students who were interested and we made a proposal, brought it to administration and brought it to the parent council.

“And the rest, as they say, is history.”

President and Grade 12 student Jennifer Taylor said the reaction to the group’s efforts has been positive.

“We’ve had a very warm welcome from the school, lots of support,” she said. “For a small town, that’s pretty impressive.”

Within the club, each person is assigned “a cubby,” and anyone can put notes or treats in the cubbies. The GSA has also been promoting awareness within the school on related issues by putting up posters that draw attention to inclusive language.

“Students can simply talk about some of the problems gay students face around the world,” Gregory said.

Stettler’s gay-straight alliance has become involved in the Teens for Jeans fundraiser. It’s a joint project between and Aeropostale, and the goal is to collect gently used jeans for homeless teenagers.

It’s estimated that up to 40 per cent of homeless youth in Canada are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and that about a quarter of those teens who “come out” are told to leave home. The project was born as a way to help youth facing such problems.

“It’s a way for us to get involved in the community, as well as to help people like us,” Taylor said.

Residents who wish to get involved can drop off jeans at one of three dropboxes throughout Stettler: at Wells Furniture, the Clearview School Division office and Jim’s Video, as well as at the high school.

The jeans will be taken to the Red Deer Aeropostale and donated to the local homeless shelter.

The fundraiser ends Feb. 16.