Your school may have a GSA, but for those who don’t have one at their school: GSA stands for Gay-Straight Alliance, and it is a club where students can find support if they are struggling with their identity or questioning their sexual orientation/gender identity, spread the word to end homophobia and transphobia, and provide a safe community for LGBT students. Depending on your school, you may not even know you have a Gay-Straight Alliance, but if you do have one, you should think about joining if you are struggling with gender/sexual identity or simply feel passionate as an LGBT ally. So, what does GSA do?
Since a goal of GSA is to spread awareness of the discrimination against LGBT people locally and on a global scale, there are many events that the club at my school runs. One thing GSA does is participate in the worldwide Day of Silence. The Day of Silence is “a national day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools”. Students participating in this event at their school are silent for the entire day, not even raising their hands in class. Teachers are notified prior to the day of any students participating, and those who partake in the Day of Silence wear or hold a card which explains the cause. Some hold a whiteboard as well, and it is really cool to see passionate students take part in this day to raise awareness of the negative culture surrounding LGBT students which leads them to keep quiet and stay under the radar to avoid harassment.
Another event that the GSA at my school participated in was a bullying assembly, where students read a journal/commentary from a transgender student at our school, and read a few skits and poems. They also organize small events such as wearing a certain color on a certain day. At the beginning of this year, we painted one of our fingernails pink in remembrance and to raise awareness of the death of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl who had committed suicide because of her parents’ and society’s refusal to recognize her as who she really was. She wished for her death to be able to “create a dialogue about discrimination, abuse and lack of support for transgender people”(x), and I think it’s pretty awesome that GSA helped along this dialogue in the environment of our school, as well as GSAs nationwide.
GSA also works to organize fundraisers to benefit causes related to the LGBT community. They organized a bracelet selling fundraiser and all the proceeds went to a a local LGBT shelter, and they also held a movie night and clothing drives. Another notable thing that my school’s GSA is trying to do is get a bathroom specifically so that transgender students feel safe and do not have to deal with the possibility of harassment. Other GSAs may have pride days, pride parades or parties, or even attend student marches, rallies, protests, and lobbying events (x).
This club is truly awesome because you know that there will be zero judgment from anyone, ever. It’s a completely safe environment, and the fact that schools are able to accommodate this is amazing! Another great aspect is that being an ally is completely respected, and you won’t be looked down upon. Though the efforts of the GSA may not always be noticed by the entire school, that they are trying to raise awareness on a topic which needs to be addressed on a small and large scale level is really cool. If you’re passionate about LGBT rights or a part of the LGBT community, it is likely that your school may have a Gay-Straight Alliance already, so go find it! The message that the GSA is spreading demands to be heard, and if your school doesn’t have a Gay-Straight Alliance, you could always create one.