Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) in Dallas ISD is closed for the summer, but students from the school's Plus Alliance club were putting together a club billboard.
"I think we're gonna leave it up for the summer," Plus Alliance faculty sponsor Cristal Pesina said. "Being a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) sponsor is only part of what I do here at IDEA, but I think it's the most important thing that I do here at IDEA."
The school's gay-straight alliance, called Plus Alliance, is a safe space for LGBTQ+ students and allies to find community.
"It was just like a new world was opened up for me," IDEA '23 graduate Will Milam said. "I'm still trying to figure it out," rising junior Rylie Newson said.
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"I see a little bit of myself in each and every one of them," Pesina said.
Pesina was a student at Molina High School in Dallas 10 years ago. The school had a gay-straight alliance, but she was not a member.
"I knew that I was part of the community, but I wasn't comfortable coming out," Pesina said. "I was afraid that my family wouldn't accept me, that some of my community wouldn't accept me...now I'm proud to be out!"
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When Pesina got a faculty support staff position at IDEA, she helped start Plus Alliance to help students like she once was.
"Cause a big fear that I had whenever I was younger and just kinda like growing into myself, like realizing things about myself, was like, I didn't know any adults that were like me," Milam said. "It was scary."
The student-led Plus Alliance club had 13 members this past school year.
"I feel like people are entitled to the right to love whoever they want; no matter the gender, or race, or nationality," Newson said.
"The positive relationships they get to build on day to day basis outshine some of the negative that they see coming from the world," Pesina said. "There's a great big world who will accept them. Who will love them."