Your right to start a GSA

Students have legal rights in schools. You have the right to be protected from harassment and discrimination. And you have the right to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club. Knowing and understanding your legal rights will help you create a safer environment in your school through your GSA.

Federal Equal Access Act

Under the Federal Equal Access Act, any school that receives government funding and has at least one other non-curricular club must also allow a GSA.  As the law states, "It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting ...on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings."

The law also says that your school must treat all clubs the same and let them use school resources in the same way. If your school let’s other clubs meet in classrooms, put up posters and organize school events, then they have to let your GSA do the same.

In most cases, your school also cannot:

  • Force you to change the name of your GSA to something "less controversial." You are allowed to use words like "gay," "lesbian," or "LGBTQ" in your name, and your school cannot require you to adopt a more general name like "Diversity Club."
  • Require parental permission for students to join your GSA, but not have the same rule for other clubs. Your school must treat all clubs equally, so if other groups don't require parental permission to join, neither should your GSA.

Find out more about your GSA's legal rights here.

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