On April 17, 2016, we officially changed our name to from Gay-Straight Alliance Network to Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network. We also have a new tagline: trans and queer youth uniting for racial and gender justice.
We thought there may be some questions about the decision, so we wanted to offer some context about our new name and tagline below. In addition, you can read a letter from our Co-Executive Directors here.
Q: Why is the name changing?
A: After much thought and direction from youth, we began to feel that “Gay-Straight Alliance” was not as inclusive and expansive as our organization aims to be. We explored many options and decided that our name needed to better reflect our mission of inclusivity and visibility.
Q: Does my GSA have to change our name?
A: Nope! As always, you can call your school club whatever you choose. Plus, the initials remain the same even though our GSA Network’s name is evolving, so your club can still be a “GSA” regardless of your decision to refer to it as a Gay-Straight Alliance or a Genders and Sexualities Alliance. In fact, there are many ways that individual “GSA” clubs have been naming themselves - other options we’ve seen are: QSA (Queer Students Alliance), Rainbow Alliance, Pride Alliance, PLUS Club or Spectrum Club, to name a few.
Q: Should my Gay-Straight Alliance club change our name to Genders & Sexualities Alliance?
A: Yes! If that name speaks to your members and their identities. It’s up to every individual club and their members to decide what name is best for your school’s club. You will need to follow any of the rules your school has regarding clubs changing their name, and you may have to wait until next school year. Another thing to think about is that for those students who struggled to get their GSA club approved in the first place, it may be another struggle to get the club approved again with the changed name, so it may just be easier to keep your club name. Regardless, we encourage all GSAs to have a conversation about how their club is being inclusive of all genders and sexualities.
Q: Why “genders and sexualities” instead of “gender and sexuality?”
A: Some of us identify with a gender, some of us don't, some of us are still figuring it out, and for none of us are those exactly the same. So, to be as inclusive as possible, we use the plural. We want everyone to feel welcome and seen. There are many different expressions of gender and sexuality, and we celebrate them all. GSA Clubs are alliances of students with different genders and sexualities fighting for a common purpose.
Q: Why did the tagline change?
A: Our former tagline, “empowering youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools,” best described the work that youth leaders were doing in their GSA clubs when it was initially created. However, as social movements evolve, so have the youth leaders who comprise today's GSA clubs. GSA activists still fight transphobia and homophobia in schools, but the criminalization of trans and queer youth of color has led to widespread school push out that calls them to do work beyond the boundaries of their school campuses. GSA leaders are also prioritizing intersectional work that fights against racism and classism as much as it does against transphobia and homophobia. The new tagline, "trans and queer youth uniting for racial and gender justice," helps us communicate that.
Q: Can straight allies still join GSAs?
A: Absolutely! Allies will always be welcome and included. Everyone has a sexuality and is therefore included in the “Sexualities” part of GSA.
Q: Can cisgender folks still join GSAs?
A: Yes! Cisgender is one of the many genders included in the “Genders” part of GSA.
Q: Is GSA Network’s vision changing, too?
A: GSA Network remains dedicated to its mission to empower and train trans, queer and allied youth to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer schools and healthier communities. The name change isn’t about changing the mission; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Describing our organization as the Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network is a more accurate reflection of who the youth leaders are and of the work that they do.
Q: Do the name and tagline impact GSA Network’s participation in the national GSA movement?
A: GSA Network will continue to be an organizational leader in the national GSA movement. Through our work with the members of the National Association of GSA Networks and other organizational partners throughout the country we will align our national campaign strategy and movement-building efforts with the intersections of LGBTQ+, racial, gender, economic, and educational justice.
Q: When did GSA Network officially change its name?
A: On April 17, 2016 the Board of Directors made the name change official. The process began in October 2015 when the issue was first raised to the Board based on feedback that staff and youth board members had heard from youth participants. The Board embraced the feedback, and created a joint board and staff task force to consider new names and make a final recommendation for approval.
Q: I came across a page on your website that still says you’re called Gay-Straight Alliance Network.
A: We’ll be updating all of our pages and resources over the next few weeks. However, if you see a page that we’ve missed, please feel free to let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.