Q&A with Elizabeth C. on JSAGrrrl, a movement empowering girls everywhere

JSA Grrrl Students 2023 Fall State

Who was involved in the initial stages of JSAGrrrl? Who is currently involved?

The initial stages of JSAGrrrl are composed of our past JSA Chapter President, Audrey L., and our chapter teacher advisor, Kip Morales. They had the idea and assigned me, Elizabeth C., to bring the initiative to life as I was the deputy director of advocacy at the time and the ambassador for our 10th-grade English honors class. I continued to hold the title of director of JSAGrrrl, and this year, we got Vanessa C. to be the deputy director of JSA Grrrl. We are the student leaders currently involved, but with titles aside, we are simply co-leads because we work as a team and have equal parts in bringing recognition and appreciation to all girls everywhere, especially in JSA.

How did the JSAgrrrl initiative form? What has been the response from JSA members?

The JSAGrrrl initiative started when Mr. Kip Morales assigned us to write about our hero’s journey for English class. We then had the idea to turn our work into Zines and take our own spin on the mini magazines that were artistically inspiring. As students started forming their zines, we saw a collection of stories that talked about the struggles girls face and essentially what it was like to be a girl. From there, we wanted to convey a message: not only was our school a safe place for these stories, but it would be a starting point for uplifting and recognizing all the hard work that goes into the everyday struggles girls and women face everywhere.

When it came to sharing this initiative with all of JSA, it took a lot of work to figure out how to start. At first, within our JSA chapter, we created a Zine Day that had copies upon copies of Zines from everyone but mainly our girl authors. Our JSA chapter had started to put JSAGrrrl in the spotlight for many events. Once we got feedback that many students and staff had loved the idea and felt supported, acknowledged, and excited, we knew it was time to make it mainstream. So, in 2021, we took the zines to Fall State and got 17 schools to join or support the zines and JSAGrrrl. Many asked about the possibilities of trading for the next conference and our next steps. Now, we even have teacher advisors from other schools coming to us for support and guidance on getting more girls to join their chapters and attend conferences.

Although it all seems optimistic, we also had a rare few who even questioned why JSA Grrrl should be a thing when women “are already in politics.” It granted and brought a conversation about gender equality and how just because things are considered equal doesn’t mean we can’t make women signified initiatives, especially in an environment where careers and hierarchies are still male-dominated.

JSAGrrrl Zines

Why did you start JSAgrrrl?

We decided to start JSAGrrrl because we wanted to find a way to spotlight the talent and stories of girls at our school. Infiltrating a sense of girl influence would not only encourage girls and more students to socialize and engage with each other after the pandemic but also feel more comfortable joining debates and our actual JSA chapter in general. Although we didn't know what JSA Grrrl would be at the time, we just knew that we wanted it to be like the movements that socially and culturally transformed the world. We took inspiration from Riot Grrrl and the Punk Rock movement as they rallied and protested against discrimination and gender inequality in a way to break social norms while also being a voice for those who didn't think they had enough power or resources to do so. With every resource we had, we conjured up a mission to actively promote women's and girls' voices of power through a multitude of creative expressions as a means of cultural resistance.

What have you been able to achieve since launching JSAgrrrl?

By launching JSAGrrrl, we have given girls in JSA a space to share their voices and opinions while guaranteeing the utmost support and respect that might not always be provided by other audiences.

With this achievement, we have helped girls from all different grade levels in our school to have their stories heard and feel comfortable sharing their experiences of what it is like to be a girl. In 2021 and last year's Fall State, we've gotten over 100 signatures and 17 schools or more to support JSAGrrrl. This year alone, we extended ways of support by giving self-made pins to people who wanted to represent JSAGrrrl and social outlets so that they could be updated on our initiative.

We have also made many connections, ranging from groups from Fall State's political fair to domestic violence representatives who showcase the importance of having a voice and standing up for yourself. We have built a community, one of the most important things to guarantee a consistent sense of respect, love, and kindness towards all human beings, as well as the women who put in the effort to help build society.

We are also now in the works of having a school-wide assembly called WomenTalk that will hopefully broadcast more written or artistic pieces from our students through a Poetry Slam. We want to have a heartfelt conversation with each grade level to instill the importance and capabilities of all girls in becoming female leaders and their ability to succeed as long as they continue to work hard and persevere.

Anything else you would like to say about JSAgrrrl?

One final thing I would like to say is how much JSA Grrrl has changed my life. I used to think that making an impact in my community had to be something drastic and incredibly noticeable to all, but this project and the community of JSA have shown me that every act, opinion, and emotion has the potential to make a change, it's just about finding the courage and effort to make it happen. Our message on behalf of JSAGrrrl is that every woman on this planet, every teenage girl in and out of JSA, and every little girl who dreams of shooting big has the strength, intelligence, and capability to be everything and more. You have the power to be the change you want to see; it is never too late to be a leader and impact the world. Happy Women's History Month!


March 20, 2024