Tyrone LGBT+ Student Group Offers Support

Led by Tyrone art teacher Deanna Mazurak, the club meets at least once every two weeks.

Some+of+the+members+of+the+TAMS-HS+LBGT%2B+Support+Group.+Front+left+to+right%3A+Ms.+Mazurak%2C+Lance+Hockenberry%2C+Thad+Woomer%0ABack+left+to+right+%3A+Guidance+Department+intern+Ms.+Katrina+Grigoryan%2C+Landon+Gill%2C+Eddie+Fessler-Laporte%2C+Megan+Rhodes%2C+Meredith+Carper%2C+Shay+Shawley.
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Tyrone LGBT+ Student Group Offers Support

Some of the members of the TAMS-HS LBGT+ Support Group. Front left to right: Ms. Mazurak, Lance Hockenberry, Thad Woomer
Back left to right : Guidance Department intern Ms. Katrina Grigoryan, Landon Gill, Eddie Fessler-Laporte, Megan Rhodes, Meredith Carper, Shay Shawley.

Some of the members of the TAMS-HS LBGT+ Support Group. Front left to right: Ms. Mazurak, Lance Hockenberry, Thad Woomer Back left to right : Guidance Department intern Ms. Katrina Grigoryan, Landon Gill, Eddie Fessler-Laporte, Megan Rhodes, Meredith Carper, Shay Shawley.

Some of the members of the TAMS-HS LBGT+ Support Group. Front left to right: Ms. Mazurak, Lance Hockenberry, Thad Woomer Back left to right : Guidance Department intern Ms. Katrina Grigoryan, Landon Gill, Eddie Fessler-Laporte, Megan Rhodes, Meredith Carper, Shay Shawley.

Some of the members of the TAMS-HS LBGT+ Support Group. Front left to right: Ms. Mazurak, Lance Hockenberry, Thad Woomer Back left to right : Guidance Department intern Ms. Katrina Grigoryan, Landon Gill, Eddie Fessler-Laporte, Megan Rhodes, Meredith Carper, Shay Shawley.

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Until very recently, students who identify as LGBT+ have lacked support in school. Despite efforts to be treated equally, these students often face discrimination or stigma from other students and even adults. To combat this problem locally, a group of students at Tyrone Middle and High School have formed an LGBT+ support group led by middle and high school art teacher Deanna Mazurak and guidance intern Katrina Grigoryan.

The club offers support and a safe environment to discuss issues relevant to them, such as discrimination, coming out, and other issues that these students face on a daily basis.

“When I was [a teenager], I needed something like this. I had zero adults in my life that I could talk to, and that’s part of the reason I became a teacher,” said Mazurak.

When I was [a teenager], I needed something like this. I had zero adults in my life that I could talk to, and that’s part of the reason I became a teacher”

— Ms. Deanna Mazurak

Mazurak, who has always loved art and wanted to teach art since she was young, was also motivated to become a teacher in order to be a positive role model for her students.

“My goal essentially is for kids to have a comfortable place to come, eventually build up their confidence within them, so that they are able to walk out into the world and have the comfort in themselves [so they] don’t feel like they have to hide who they are,” said Mazurak.

According to the students, the club is a very positive outlet for them and they appreciate the support that they get from it.

“It has given me an outlet to talk about being LGBT in general, because I usually don’t get to talk about it a lot,” said eighth grader Eddie Fessler.

Being part of the LGBT community herself, Mazurak understands what the students experience and she hopes to create a safe and comforting environment to help them navigate school.

“Ever since I could remember I’ve always known that I was different from [many] other kids,” said Mazurak.

Fear of bullying and seclusion from other students can lead to emotional issues for some LGBT students. This is especially prevalent for trans students, when their old name and gender is said to them instead of their new identity.

It has given me an outlet to talk about being LGBT in general, because I usually don’t get to talk about it a lot”

— Eddie Fessler

Some students have support from family and friends, but unfortunately some do not.

“My mom is okay with the LGBT community because we have other people in our family that are part of it,” says junior Landon Gill.

For other students who do not have support at home, the group gives them a place to work things out.

“I don’t really talk to my parents that often about LGBT stuff, but when we do, we get into a lot of arguments about it, and in a way, it pushes me away from coming out to them,” said one member of the group.

Students interested in joining the group should visit the guidance office or message Ms. Mazurak at [email protected] for more information.

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