Thomas was leaving his final class of the day when he saw it. An eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper taped to the front of his psychology teacher’s desk. It could get lost amid all the other motivational posters taped up around it, which could be why Thomas hadn’t noticed it the moment he entered the room. But it was there.
An upside-down triangle filled with a rainbow gradient. The letters ‘GSA’ were printed in black over it. Underneath was written ‘this is a safe space’.
Thomas stuffed his textbook into his backpack and jogged the few meters to the teacher’s desk. She was also in the process of packing up for the day, and he didn’t want to risk her leaving before he got a chance to talk to her.
“Mrs. Rust.” He got her attention and flashed a smile. “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Not at all.” She paused in her paper gathering and fixed her full attention on him. “It was Thomas Lake, right?”
Thomas nodded. He had gotten used to teachers knowing who he was in elementary school because they always made a point of looking out for the kid with a strange home life. There was probably some other reason Mrs. Rust knew his name, but he wasn’t going to wonder about that now. She had information he needed.
He pointed at the paper taped to her desk. “I just noticed this poster here.”
Mrs. Rust took a moment to come out from around the desk, so she could see what he was pointing at. “Ah.” She breathed. “You have a question about the GSA.”
“Yes. For starters, our school has one?” He was surprised by how relieved he felt when she nodded. “I was wondering if you knew when and where it met.”
“Thomas.” She fixed him with a serious stare. “No malicious intent?”
“What?” He was taken back by her defensive posture. “No. Lo-- One of the ninth graders at orientation asked about it. I told him I’d find out for him.”
“Oh.” Mrs. Rust’s defensiveness immediately melted away. “Yes, of course.” She rolled her shoulders and took a deep breath. “Sorry about that. I’m the advisor, and I get a little protective of everyone in the club.” She flashed an apologetic smile. “We meet in this room every Friday during Lunch.”
“Thank you.” Thomas nodded at her before turning around and leaving the room.
When he reached his locker, he was met by a very pissed off Briar. “I am going to punch each and every one of them.” She was seething.
Logan was there too, apparently trying to calm Briar down. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. I’m used to it.”
“That doesn’t make it--” She stopped when Thomas rested a hand on top of her head. For some reason, that had always been able to calm her down.
“What happened?” He asked Logan.
Logan looked away. “She heard some of my classmates call me Lauren.”
Thomas’s stomach clenched. Had one of the other group members told others about his attendance mistake? He wouldn’t be mad about that, since even he had to admit it would have been a funny story if it had happened to someone else. But if someone had used it as the base for picking on Logan… He didn’t know what to do.
His thoughts must have been broadcast on his face, because Logan started waving his arms in the air. “It’s not your fault.” He rushed to explain. “My first teacher called me Lauren during attendance.” He forced a smile and shuffled his feet. “I told you it happened a lot.”