Courtesy of GLSEN, July 31, 2014.
A new school year means a new beginning, new challenges and new opportunities. And, for any students looking to start a gay-straight alliance, The GLSEN Jump-Start Guide outlines how to create a safe space for LGBT students and their allies in 10 easy-to-follow steps.
1. Follow Guidelines
Establish a GSA the same way you would start any other group or club. Check your student handbook for your school’s rules regarding clubs. Requirements can vary by school or school district.
2. Find a Faculty/Teacher Advisor
Find teachers or staff members you think would be supportive or who have already shown themselves to be allies around sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Consult your school rules for more information on who can serve as a club advisor.
3. Find Other Students
Work with a diverse range of students who are interested in such a group. Check with existing clubs for interested, and involved, students.
4. Inform Administration
Letting administrators know what you are doing right away can be very helpful, as they can work as liaisons to teachers, parents, community members and the school board. If an administrator opposes the GSA, provide them information about the Federal Equal Access Act (EAA).
5. Pick a Meeting Place
You may want to find a meeting place within the school that offers some level of privacy, yet is still easily accessible.
There are many ways to advertise; think about how you’ve seen other clubs advertise. Start by using a combination of your school bulletin, announcements, flyers, social media and word-of-mouth, and see what works best for your school.
7. Plan Your Meeting
Of course you want to have a good meeting, so plan ahead of time. There are many things you can do, from discussions to inviting speakers, holding workshops and playing games. Dozens of possible activities are described within The GLSEN Jump-Start Guide.
8. Hold Your Meeting
You may want to start with a discussion about why people feel the group is needed or important. You can also brainstorm projects that your club could do this year.
9. Establish Ground Rules
Creating ground rules helps ensure that group discussions are safe, confidential and respectful. Many groups have a ground rule that no assumptions or labels are used about a group member’s sexual orientation.
10. Plan for the Future
Develop an action plan, brainstorm projects and set goals for what you want to work toward. Contact GLSEN’s Student Organizing Department for support and look into GSA networks in your area.