Jocelyn Ha: Advocating for LGBTQ+

Junior Jocelyn Ha strives to spread awareness of the LGBT community on campus through GSA and girl scouts.

Personally knowing Jocelyn Ha, every morning when I walk through the door, she smiles brightly and greets me with a hug. She radiates so much energy from any corner of the room and in Chambers choir, she greets every student excitedly with either a hug or finger hearts. On a daily basis, Ha not only participates in choir, but also in several clubs and extracurriculars on and outside of campus as well as works with a jam-packed schedule of academic classes.

Ha actively leads GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) as vice president to build a safe LGBTQ+ community for everyone to connect and feel comfortable to be themselves on campus. When asked about why she was interested in the club and how she became vice president, Ha replied, “I am personally lesbian and I started coming out in my sophomore year. It was really great to find GSA and a community of people that I could feel safe to talk to if I had any problems or questions. It felt really good to be in that sort of space and when I found out that they needed leadership within the next few years, I thought to myself, ‘Why not me?’”

Ha first came out to her parents but they responded with concern and confusion for their daughter. They didn’t understand or know to react to their daughter coming out, so they became to worry. Her parents originally believed Ha’s coming out was a response of hormones and teenage confusion and the language and culture barrier gave Ha a difficult time explaining to her parents. 

Regardless of the difficulties, her parents were very supportive and open to learning about the community to support their daughter. They even joined VROC, Vietnamese Rainbow of Orange County, and attended several meetings to learn more. Her family is very supportive of Ha but it took some time. “If I didn’t have the resources that I needed, it would have gone way worse and differently.” 

“It’s strange. On our campus, as long as you don’t make your sexuality a big deal then it’s fine. At school, I’m semi-out, semi-not out. I don’t mind if someone asks, but I’m not volunteering the information myself.” Ha added that she’s waiting until college before she can be more open and involved in the LGBTQ+ community because it’s difficult as a high school student.

Outside of school, Ha is an active girl scout in a Vietnamese troop. She started going to her troop at seven years old with several of her friends and she has been going ever since, marking this her twelfth year. Ha has participated in many camps and has earned countless badges. “I’ve finished the bronze and silver award and now I’m currently working to finish the gold award, the equivalent to an eagle scout in boy scouts. You could call it the gold award the ultimate award for girl scouts.”

The gold award requires the girl scout to tackle an issue and to create a lasting change within their community. Ha chose to raise awareness of inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community in the Orange Unified School District. 

“Orange Unified should have more LGBTQ+ representation in school and curriculum and more teacher training so they know how to work with students who are LGBTQ+, especially transgender students. We see a lot of vulnerability because even though teachers do mean well and want to help support the kids, they don’t know how so I want to raise awareness to school districts to put in a system to help these kids or implement more education and resources to support these students.” 

To advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Ha has been holding workshops with GSA and plans to hold an educational parent panel at school within the next few months. 

The school does several campaigns and workshops about drug abuse and teen pregnancy but has touched very little on LGBTQ+ issues so Ha strives to make a change.

Regardless of her busy schedule of participating in GSA, Red Cross, Chambers, and Girl Scouts, Ha balances her life by trying to finish her tasks as soon as possible but keeping her focuses in mind, especially her gold award. 

“The work never stops, even when you finish one thing, there’s always more to be done. I try my best to sleep the full seven hours but I just take it as it comes.” 

For Ha, she’d much rather have a lot more free time, however, having too much free time makes her anxious, as if she could be using it to do more productive things. Compared to her sophomore year, her junior year schedule is much more jam-packed, but she already has plans for senior year. 

Next year, Ha hopes to have her gold award finished, be more active in campus clubs, and to take it easier in her academics even though she’ll be taking the same amount of classes. Regardless of what life throws at her, Ha will strive to do her best.

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