December 13, 2013

39 Years Later: A Safe Space at My School

Eric S. is a graduate of East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina where our executive director Eliza Byard recently delivered the final kit in our three-year campaign to send a Safe Space Kit to every school in the United States.

I was checking my Facebook feed earlier today and saw an announcement of the new GSA at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC. I graduated from East Meck in 1974, back in the days before the idea of a GSA was on anyone’s radar. For a gay or questioning kid then, there was just nowhere to go for information, companionship, or understanding, and certainly there were no adults with whom it was safe to have a conversation about gender identity or sexual orientation. Most of us just tried to keep a low profile, and hoped no one would notice how we were “different.”   

It’s pretty amazing to be able to visualize the physical space of my high school of forty years ago, which was a huge jumble of fear, fun, fear, growth, fear, and challenges, as a space that actually reaches out its arms to embrace all of its students. In an unexpected way, even though I have grown up and found and married the man I love (thanks, Minnesota!) I feel as though the school is also reaching out to embrace me and the people like me who walked its halls through these many decades. Congratulations to all the young people who are using this new tool to claim their spot in the world, and thanks to all the advisers and allies who helped clear the path for them and for us.

To learn more about the Safe Space Kit or get one for yourself visit

Brian Murphy

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