SAGA Hosts Equity Forum


SAGA and Visual Arts students created the board game “Pride Run” to take players through LGBTQ+ history and reinforce the idea that queer people have always been making impacts in American society. (Graphic by Bailey E. Asbury)

Bailey Asbury, Staff Reporter

The Warren Hills Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) hosted its first Equity Forum in the library on May 25, with the effort having undergone some changes since the project began in January.

Spearheaded by myself (Bailey E. Asbury) as president of SAGA and by club faculty advisors Maggie Devine and Kevin Horn, the forum had been an idea for “about five years,” Devine said.

The original plan was to invite six high schools’ Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs). The schools included Phillipsburg, North Warren, Hackettstown, North and Central Hunterdon, and Voorhees. 

However,  as Devine explained, most schools had a cut-off date in February for field trips due to state and Advanced Placement testing, so we had waited too long to send out invitations, warranting the schools unable to attend.

Nonetheless, we decided to proceed with the event as a trial run.

In preparation, SAGA members created a forum promoting community-bonding and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.

We knew from the start that we wanted a keynote speaker. Horn put me in touch with Warren Hills alumnus and former SAGA member Juno Quigley, who shared her experiences as a transgender college student at Pratt Institute. The original idea was that this would show the GSAs that as rough as high school may be, there are opportunities beyond to look forward to.

Being that the majority of the audience this year was Peer Leaders, Quigley’s speech was adapted to inform allies how to support the queer community.

The forum featured three community-bonding activities: crafts, an original board game and a showcase on student rights. 

Sticking with the theme of “equity,” our crafts included “Pride flag pins,” a “design-your own-outfit” activity and an original board game. 

Modeled after “Candy Land,” “Pride Run” took the player through LGBTQ+ history to educate students on the topic.

For the creation of “Pride Run,” we enlisted the help of Visual Arts students, including senior Nicole Magistrado, who painted a depiction of Marsha P. Johnson and the Stonewall Inn. Other students painted sections highlighting landmarks and historical figures like the Harlem Renaissance-era Cotton Club and singer Bessie Smith; Castro, San Francisco, and Harvey Milk; Disney’s Pride Rock from The Lion King and Elton John. Within the game, students read aloud information to elicit discussion about queer history.

The showcase focused on student rights in New Jersey. Student rights are important for all to understand, but in increasingly hostile environments for LGBTQ+ students across the country, it is even more important to know how student rights apply to queer students.

Despite the changes along the way, SAGA hosted an engaging, educational Equity Forum for Warren Hills to spread awareness of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I hope,” Devine said, “that students took away a sense of self, voice, and a model and vision for a successful and productive Gender-Sexuality Alliance.”