By Jackie

Monday, January 18th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Honoring our nation’s most famous civil rights leader gives us the opportunity to reflect on and step up our own work to fight injustice.Do you believe GSA clubs should fight racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and other oppressions?  Does yours?

At GSA Network, we believe that GSA clubs can and should fight not only homophobia and transphobia, but other oppressions as well.  Why?  Recall what Martin Luther King, Jr. said:  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  When one form of oppression goes unchallenged in our schools or our society, it threatens all of us.  Furthermore, addressing multiple forms of oppression is a powerful way to build our movement and incorporate all members of our diverse, multiracial community.

Gay-Straight Alliance clubs are effective vehicles for fighting all types of oppression because the GSA movement was founded on the belief that we can end oppression by building alliances.  GSA activists can use their leadership and organizing skills to ensure that everyone can go to school free from harassment and discrimination.

There are numerous ways that your GSA can fight injustice.  Check out these ideas and add your own ideas in the comments below!

  1. Create an Inclusive GSA:  Visit this section of our website to find out what you can do to build an anti-racist GSA, address transgender issues, and incorporate straight allies, students with LGBT parents, and adult supporters.
  2. Speak up when you hear derogatory comments or jokes that put down people of color, women, people with disabilities, or other groups.  As Dr. King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  3. Build Coalitions: Visit this section of our website to learn the basics of coalition building, discover why immigrant rights is a queer issue, and find out what you can do to combat harassment and discrimination against Arab and Arab-American students since 9-11.
  4. Fight for Inclusive Curriculum:  When asking teachers to include the contributions of LGBT people in their lessons, take a step back and consider who else’s history is not being taught.  Form partnerships to ensure that none of our histories are erased.
  5. Expand Your Day of Silence: Unite with students of color and other groups to highlight the silence, harassment and discrimination faced by many communities every day.  Join forces to break the silence. 
  6. Follow the lead of kick-ass GSA organizers like Lea and Michael, who suggested: “Have a joint meeting with the BSU (Black Student Union) at your school and talk about the connection between different types of anti-oppression work. Also, show this film called Brother Outsider about Bayard Rustin, who was influential in the civil rights movement, but got little recognition because of his sexual orientation.”
  7. Increase your personal understanding and commitment to anti-oppression work by attending a Leadership Training or Summit or coming to GSA Activist Camp this summer.

If you have questions or need ideas, contact your local Program Coordinator!

Northern California – Kiely:
Central Valley – Julia and Anthony:
Southern California – Daniel:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.