Challenge your stereotypes about youth and/or adults.
Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations for youth and adults.
Ensure that one group does not greatly outnumber the other.
Building Effective Youth Adult Partnerships
Evaluate the structure of the organization: Did youth or adults start the group? Who leads the group? Have both youth and adults always participated?
Prioritize youth leadership and facilitation and focus on leadership training and skill-building for students.
Follow a specific process for planning events and projects in your GSA. Make sure responsibilities are clearly designated and expectations are well defined.
Frequently evaluate group dynamics: Do adult advisors and student leaders both feel supported? Do youth members feel they have the power and control in the group?
If adults tend to outnumber youth or dominate the GSA, consider forming a separate Genders and Sexualities Teacher’s Alliance or faculty group
If adult advisors wish to be involved in setting meeting agendas (or are required to by school policy), make sure that a youth leader is also involved in the process.
If adult advisors have concerns about a particular project, have them voice these by asking questions instead of handing down authoritative decisions.
Youth and Adult Partnership Tips
ASK QUESTIONS. Conflict can easily arise when messages are misconstrued. Communication styles vary from person to person; different communication styles do not imply disrespect or disinterest. Ask questions in order to clarify and keep a common goal in mind to help address conflicts.
BE DELIBERATE. Adults and young people vary widely on content knowledge, development, and willingness to participate. Create a way to hold everyone accountable in the work they do.
BE RESPECTFUL. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences. It is important to respect and recognize what an individual brings to the group.
YOUTH TRAINING. Create learning opportunities for youth to take leadership on important projects. Facilitate growth for young people in a meaningful way such as public speaking, communication, and assertive skills. Build capacities for young people and hold high expectations for youth.
BURN OUT. People have other interests and priorities (friends, families, hobbies, education). Depending heavily on someone can cause them to burn out. Feeling tired, overwhelmed, and overworked is a common reality. Assist youth in recognizing when “no” is an appropriate answer and support their decision.