Johnstown High School LGBT club gets advisors

JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education on Wednesday appointed new co-advisors to Johnstown High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, which may undergo a name change.

The board appointed Elif Ipek-Nobles, a JHS math teacher, and Julie Rodgers, a JHS special education teacher, as unpaid co-advisors to the group. Appointments are for the 2017-18 school year.

Ipek-Nobles, who spoke to the board, requested approval for what she called the new “Johnstown Quality Alliance.”

Superintendent Patricia Kilburn said the board previously approved the similar Gay-Straight Alliance, which has been somewhat dormant the last several years.

She said the board can now vote at a future meeting to change the name to the Johnstown Quality Alliance.

Ipek-Nobles said the group is aimed at the LGBT community, which stands for anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. But she said it could also be for any members of the “underrepresented” school population.

She said the new alliance had an initial meeting March 9. She said the meeting attracted 48 students, as well as “several” staff members. Ipek-Nobles said main goals of the alliance are to give representation to the underrepresented and protect and make safe such a student population. She said the group could also be for people of different ethnicities and racial backgrounds.

Ipek-Nobles said that many times, the students who need representation in the alliance are young [teens] who undergo high levels of rejection and suffer depression.

The new alliance co-advisors said there are other regional school districts that have such alliances or clubs, such as the Greater Amsterdam School District.

Johnstown High School on Friday hosted its annual “Music for the Mind” program. The program is run by students inside and outside the school and features music and fundraising aimed at combating mental illness and depression.

By Patricia Older

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