SPECTRUM flourishes as LGBT rights debate blazes in America

Gay rights have become a battlefield in this new century. States have tried to legalize gay marriage or ban it, as the case may be. People are questioning policies like "don’t ask, don’t tell," and the LGBTA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Alliance) has come into the limelight. SPECTRUM is Ames High’s LGBTA club. The LGBTA community not only includes people who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, etc., but also the people who support them, or allies. SPECTRUM is led by Alex Canfield and Marian Thompson and is open to all members of the community. "We want to try to eliminate homophobia," said Canfield . "We also want to have people understand that the people in the LGBTA community are human beings. They deserve the right to marry." SPECTRUM’s membership has doubled in the past year, according to Canfield, and now includes 25-30 active members. "I personally am very happy with our turnout this year," he said. Even with this new growth, some students are reluctant to come to meetings. "W e do have many people outside the club that say they support gay rights," said Canfield, "but are afraid to come." " It’s a definite improvement," said Thompson, "but that doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied with it. We could have so many more members if people weren’t afraid others would think less of them for coming." So far this year, SPECTRUM has brought in 5 speakers that have talked on issue s of the LGBTA community, for example how people can approach their parents or community about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and when is the appropriate time. Despite the importance of the speakers’ topics, student turnout was less than satisfactory. " I was pretty disappointed," said Thomps on. " Even asking people in the halls to come was sad. They started to look really nervous and said they wouldn’t come, and I was thinking, ‘Wow. Are they really so afraid that people will judge them?’" I n c o n t r a s t t o t h e p a n e l o f s p e a k e r s , business f o r S P E C T R U M ‘ s bake sales h a s been "wonderful" according to Canfield. They raised enough to bring the speakers to the high school and future funds from bake sales will be used for SPECTRUM’s future activities. Some future activities may include a "human rights week," where S P E C T R U M a n d v a r i o u s o t h e r c l u b s would sponsor a w e e k d e d i c a t e d t o human rights, but nothing seems to be set in stone. Besides that, more speakers and bake sales are planned, and the Day of Silence, a day in April when people across the country don’t talk to protest the silencing of LGBTA through harassment and prejudice, is expected to be in SPECTRUM’s future. If you want to support gay rights at Ames High, come to SPECTRUM at 8:30 on Wednesday mornings.