What Is a GSA and What Is Its Purpose?
A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a group that provides a safe space for ALL students. GSAs work to:
- Help students be more at ease with their sexual orientation so they feel safer, do better at school, and are more able to take part in everyday life.
- Form friendships that fight homophobia, isolation, marginalization, violence, and exclusion.
- Change the false and negative ideas some students and teachers have about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, and questioning (LGBTQ) people.
- Promote respect of all people no matter what their racial background, family income, sex, gender identity, religion, or sexual orientation is.
- Raise awareness and teach others about homophobia and other forms of harassment and abuse.
What Can Students Do?:
- Start a GSA in your school. Find understanding staff to be sponsors and work with you. Follow the normal rules for starting any school club. Pick a comfortable meeting place. Advertise the group and explain what you are doing and why. Keep your message positive.
- Schedule the first meeting and provide snacks. In the first meetings, you will most likely just be talking about ideas. Use this meeting to set some rules. This is important work, but also remember to have fun!
- Look up the dates and take part in anti-homophobia events such as the International Day Against Homophobia Day, Pink Shirt Day, Day of Silence, and National Coming Out Day.
- Network with the GSAs at other schools in the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB).
- Speak up against language that is hurtful such as "that's so gay" and other slurs. Tell staff if someone is picking on you or someone else.
- Help your child by learning more about what your child is going through.
- Learn about myths and misinformation. Get to know the facts. Contact Windsor Pride at (519) 973-4656 for resources and information.
- Support equity and inclusiveness in your classroom by being a part of a student GSA or join the GECDSB GSA for Staff.
- Respond right away to offensive language, harassment, and abuse and make diversity a part of your lesson plans.
- Familiarize yourself with:
Did You Know?
Recent research done across all of Canada (Egale Canada, 2009) shows that:
- 75% of Canadian LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school.
- 60% of Canadian LGBTQ students said they were verbally harassed about their sexual orientation, while 25% of Canadian LGB students said they were physically harassed.
- This doesn't have to be the norm. Things are changing:
- Current Canadian LGBTQ students were much less likely than past students to report that school staff never stepped in to stop harassment and abuse.
- GSAs are important because students in schools with GSAs (GLSEN, 2007):
- Reported hearing fewer homophobic remarks.
- Experienced less harassment and assault because of their sexual orientation and gender expression.
- Were more likely to report incidents of harassment and assault.
- Were less likely to feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.
- Were less likely to miss school because of safety concerns.
- Reported a greater sense of belonging to their school community.
FirstClass: Diversity Conference/GSA (for teachers)
GECDSB Diversity Officer: (519) 255-3200 or www.gecdsb.on.ca
Service Alliance for Equality (SAFE): www.safewindsor.com
Windsor Pride Community: www.windsorpride.com or (519) 973-4656
Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE): www.egale.ca
EGALE GSA website: www.mygsa.ca
Gay-Straight Alliance Network: www.gsanetwork.org
Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN): www.glsen.org
LGBT Youth Line: www.youthline.ca
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG): www.pflag.ca
Rainbow Health Ontario: www.rainbowhealthontario.ca
Egale Canada. (2009). Youth speak up about homophobia and transphobia: The first national climate survey on homophobia in Canadian schools: Phase one report. Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.egale.ca/index.asp?lang=&menu=1&item=1401
GLSEN. (2007). The 2007 national school climate survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation?s schools.
Retrieved May 30, 2010, from http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/2340.html