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GSA 20th-Anniversary Conference

Andover's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) hosts interscholastic conference on February 22

January 11, 2009 -- On February 22, 2009 the Phillips Academy GSA will host an interscholastic conference as part of its year-long, 20th anniversary celebration. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to participants from other schools and organizations. Through panels, theater, and discussion groups, the conference will examine contemporary GLBT topics as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. Light breakfast and lunch is included.

DATE: February 22, 2009

TIME: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FEE: $20 per student


Please check this page for regular updates.


 9:00 a.m.
 9:00 a.m - 9:20 a.m.
 Socializing Brunch & Activism/Advocacy Activities
 9:20 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.
 9:45 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.
 National Service and "16 Years of Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.
 GLBT Representation in the Media in 2008
 11:55 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.
 Lunch & Activism/Advocacy Activities
 12:45 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
 Excerpts from "The Laramie Project" & Discussion
 2:10 p.m. - 3:20 p.m
 20 Years of GSA!
 3:20 p.m. - 3:35 p.m.
 Debriefing and Wrap-Up
 3:35 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
 Networking and Goodbyes

Event Listing


TOPIC: 20 Years of GSAs!

The Phillips Academy Andover GSA is the second oldest in the country. Just how far have high schools come in 20 years? What roles should GSAs play for today’s generation of students.


Sharon TentarelliSharon Tentarelli ‘90
Sharon is a proud founder of the Phillips Academy GSA in 1989. After graduating from Andover in 1990, Sharon went to MIT and majored in chemistry. For the last several years she has been working for a large pharmaceutical company's cancer and infection drug-discovery group. Sharon lives in Sudbury, MA with her partner Ellen and her son Mark, who is in 6th grade. Their last few years have been highly amusing and surprisingly easy as they adjust to life as a family of three, as well as adjusting to being more "out" as a GLBT family. Ellen and Sharon plan to marry in the Summer of 2010, with Mark as their best man.

Marta PaczyznskaMarta Paczynska ‘94
Marta is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Tufts University, working on a dissertation that explores intersections of family, sexuality, race, and national identity in 20th century anglophone Puerto Rican literature. She is a Puerto Rican woman of mixed ancestry, and identifies as a butch and a queer woman of color. While at Phillips Academy, she was co-president and later president of the GSA (92-93, 93-94). She spoke at the rallies and testified at the hearings that helped create the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and now serves on the current incarnation of that body, the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth. After graduation in 2009, she looks to work in community organizing and education.

Ryan Coughlan ‘02
Ryan, a graduate of Harvard University, is a young alum interested in developing alumni support networks for GLBT student communities.


TOPIC: National Service and 16 Years of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

How has the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law affected the military and its soldiers? What is its future?


Darren ManzellaDarren Manzella
Army Veteran Sergeant Darren Manzella served two tours of duty in the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A decorated healthcare specialist, Manzella provided critical care on the streets of Baghdad and was praised and rewarded for his work. During his second tour of duty, which ended in December 2007, he served as an openly gay soldier to both his colleagues and his command.
        A member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network speakers bureau, Manzella told his story to CBS News “60 Minutes”, making him one of the first openly gay, active duty service members to speak with media while serving inside the war zone. In March of 2008 Manzella was informed by his commander at Fort Hood, Texas, that he was being recommended for discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; a copy of the 60 Minutes transcript was attached to the discharge recommendation.
         Today Manzella resides in Washington, DC, working with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to continue the fight against and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. To read more about Manzella, click here.



TOPIC: GLBT Representation in the Media in 2008

GLBT visibility in written and visual media has grown tremendously in the past few years, but many struggles remain. How are GLBT individuals portrayed? What issues does the community still face?


Krystal FreemanKrystal Freeman ‘03
Native New Yorker Krystal Freeman ('03) is a writer, viral media consultant, and sustainability enthusiast. In 2007 she graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Urban & Environmental Policy and a minor in Critical Theory & Social Justice. In 2008 she served as a Media Fellow for Communities of African Descent at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation where she helped to develop the voices of straight ally, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people for media outlets like the New York Times and Essence magazine. By day Krys serves as a viral media consultant for "Spring," a store specializing in green products for a healthy home; by night, she blogs at Her work has been published on and Krys also manages "The Definition," a social networking community she created for transgender men and male-identified lesbians. And she has recently accepted the position of Logistics Coordinator for the first Butch Voices Conference in August 2009.


Randall Peffer, Instructor in English
Mr. Peffer is a professional writer for 37 years with hundreds of published feature stories to his credit. He has also published seven nonfiction books, including travel guides and memoirs. As a writer he is now focused entirely on fiction. He is the author of edgy, literary crime novels that have included GLBT characters. He is currently writing naval thrillers set during the Civil War.


THEATRICAL PERFORMANCE: Excerpts from "The Laramie Project"

10 years ago, Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student, was brutally murdered. His death sparked a national movement against anti-gay violence. A theater production, "The Laramie Project", emerged from that tragic event. At the conference, acting students will perform excerpts from "The Laramie Project" and participate in a discussion to follow.


JUST FOR ADVISORS: Roundtable Discussion

GSA Advisors will have a special time to meet each other and discuss our roles within our communities.

ADVISORS: please complete the registration form you received via the regular mail. Please respond by January 16th if possible so we can hold seats for your students. Thanks!


About Andover GSA

The Gay-Straight Alliance is an organization of the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD). In keeping with Phillips Academy’s Statement of Purpose, the mission of CAMD is to raise awareness and encourage understanding of differences of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, geographical origin, and sexual orientation. CAMD fosters the belief that through investigation and greater understanding of experiences outside of our own, we come to a greater understanding of ourselves.

The Abbot Academy Association has generously provided partial funding for this conference


Contact Info

  • Frank Tipton, Advisor on GLB Issues
  • Email »
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