Many Schools in the United States have a safe, caring, and informational club for those who support and are part of the LGBTQ+ community; most of these clubs are called Gay-Straight alliance or G.S.A. Many students and even faculty don’t know what G.S.A are about, and everyone assumes the Gay-Straight Alliance club is only for students who identify themselves as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Pansexual, Queer, etc(LGBTQ+).
What is a G.S.A?
A Gay-Straight Alliance (G.S.A) is a school club (Middle School, High School, College etc.), which provides a safe place for students who identify as LGBTQ+ and their straight allies to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and work to end homophobia and transphobia (gsanetwork.org).
What does a G.S.A. do in my school/community?
The presence of G.S.A.s help to make schools safer for LGBT students by sending a message that biased language and harassment will not be tolerated (glsen.org). Gay-Straight alliance clubs will not tolerate homophobic remarks or any kind of racist or sexist remarks. G.S.As will work towards making a safer and more welcoming place for everyone. Many LGBTQ+ students feel unsafe in school, and due to this they tend to miss school and classes. LGBTQ+ students in schools with G.S.As are less likely to miss school because they feel unsafe compared to other students. According to glsen.org, a quarter (26%) of students with G.S.As missed school the past month because they felt unsafe compared to a third (32%) of students at schools without G.S.As (glsen.org). G.S.As also creates safe spaces for students to meet and socialize in a harassment-free zone environment.
Is G.S.As only for gay students?
This is one of the most asked questions and one of the main reasons why some people will not join this club. Students believe that being part of a G.S.A makes you gay. It’s a Gay-Straight Alliance club, the word Straight is included in it but some student and some parents still do not understand what a G.S.A is really about. Gay-Straight Alliance clubs are made for everyone who supports the LGBTQ+ community. Members of a G.S.A are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queers, questioning, pansexual, asexual, intersex, transsexual, and straight youth (gsanetwork.org).
Why do straight youth become members of G.S.As?
Straight youth are often members of G.S.As because they have LBGTQ+ family or friends (gsanetwork.org). From personal experiences I have been told that the straight allies from Rocky Hill High School joined the club due to the fact that the LGBTQ+ society is being tolerated but it has not completely been accepted. Also straight allies join G.S.As because they have been perceived as LGBT and they know what is it like to be harassed over it, and they want to stop it that in their schools. Other straight allies join the club because they see ending homophobia, transphobia as an important civil rights and human rights issue.
Do G.S.As only benefit LGBTQ+ students?
Bullying creates unwelcoming, uncaring, disrespectful and unsafe learning environment for all students (education.alberta.ca). G.S.As will not only focus on LGBTQ+ bullying because that wouldn’t be fair for anyone. Many LGBTQ+ students that have been bullied and know what it is like to be treated differently and disrespectfully and most of them will not want anyone to feel that way either. Also, some G.S.As focus on stop the use of words like ‘bully’, because that student who is picking on someone else may be getting picked on and they do that because they want to feel in power and that they are not weak. G.S.As members will work together to end bullying of anyone and stop the use of labels because we all are humans and we all are the same inside.
G.S.A’s dealing with apathy.
What is apathy?
Apathy is a ‘lack of concern or interest; indifference” (dictionary.com). In term of the LBGTQ+ issues, apathy is the feeling in your community or school that nothing further needs to be done to promote acceptance and positive change (gsanetwork.org).
When does apathy occur?
It tends to happen when your school or community has reached a level of tolerance, but not full acceptance, toward the LGBTQ+ community and issues (gsanetwork.org). Usually apathy happens in environments where the majority of people believe LGBTQ-related problems to be non-existent, often because over discrimination does not happen, though discreet form of discrimination or intolerance, such as the use of the phrase ‘that’s so gay’; reveal that the true and full acceptance has not yet been achieved. Apathy is just another way of saying that LGBTQ+ issues are basically invisible to the community or school. Now, that is not good because there are people who are struggling with their sexuality but they don’t know anything and they do not receive any information from schools. G.S.A need to be look upon as more than just a ‘Gay’ club.
Why should you join your school’s G.S.A?
First of all this helps fight the stigma of everyone who join the club is gay. Because the club has the word ‘gay’ in it, it doesn’t mean that everyone who joins the club is gay. Also joining a G.S.A gives you the opportunity to get more involved with what is happening around you, and also it’s a great way to make new friends. Gay-Straight alliances are a great way for LGBTQ+ youth to make new friends too, and to make new straight-ally friends. Joining this club will only let you get a better inside of the community and the many issues it faces.