Today we are on the cusp of a new administration–the least educated, least qualified, and whitest in recent history. From the Executive branch and cabinet nominees, through a Republican-controlled Legislative branch, and to the potential nominees of the Judicial branch, there is a lot in this country that will change and impact our lives in extraordinary and harmful ways. It is very easy to succumb to fear in this environment. However, GSA Network stands ready to protect our community through the power of youth voice, youth leadership, and youth organizing; defend the life-saving protections that we’ve fought for and gained; and resist the tide of hate, intolerance, and violence that we anticipate.
The safety of trans and queer youth throughout the United States remains our primary goal. We have released a resource for GSAs to use to help keep their members safe, but also know that there is a particular group of GSA leaders and LGBTQ+ youth who face a unique risk–students who filed for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We urge GSAs to work with other student groups on campus and their school administrations to make sure that undocumented students are protected in schools. At an organizational level, we will implement a number of measures to keep our staff, board, members, and data safe. Given the multitude of protests, marches, and acts of resistance over the next few days, months, and years, we’ll be cross-promoting resources made by our partner and allied organizations that will help people make informed decisions about what level of risk to take and how best to protect themselves and their friends at these events.
- GSA Safety Resource
- ACLU Know Your Rights Guide
- National Immigration Project Know Your Rights Guide for Noncitizens
We want to thank President Obama for all of the work his administration did to move protections forward for LGBTQ+ youth, particularly for trans and gender-expansive students. There have already been many roadblocks to the current guidance as state and local laws have been introduced that would harm trans and gender-expansive youth. GSA Network will work with the members of the National Association of GSA Networks and youth leaders across the country to defend the hard-won rights of trans and queer students in schools. We will also work with our partner organizations to ensure that any school not following the Federal Equal Access Act–a law requiring GSAs to be able to form in any school that receives public funding and has other extra-curricular clubs–is held accountable.
How to help defend your rights:
Start a petition at GSAs Unite! You can start a petition addressed to any lawmaker, school administrator, or decision maker to:
- Fight unjust laws that are being proposed
- Demand that your school let you form a GSA club
- Oppose education codes or school codes of conduct that prevent trans and queer youth from feeling safe in their schools.
- Have your school be declared a sanctuary school for undocumented students
Trans and queer youth leaders have always been on the frontlines. After today, the frontline may seem more prominent and the hate may seem unceasing. Trans and queer youth are some of the fiercest, most unyielding, and most resilient voices in the social justice world. GSA Network will be with you.
We will resist the normalization of the new administration. We will resist the oppressive efforts of the right-wing agenda from laws, to cabinet appointments, to judicial nominees. We will resist the efforts to divide our movements against each other because we understand that when they come for any one of us, it could be all of us. And we will resist the notion that we must do this while forgoing our own self-care.
The work ahead is hard, it is draining, and it will be ongoing. We must remember to take care of ourselves in the midst of it all so that we can take care of each other through our pain and sorrows, and be in community to enjoy the victories.
What you can do now:
- Think about yourself! – Create a wellness or self-care plan so that you don’t burn out
- Stay Connected! – Join a youth council or GSA organization near you
- Be heard! – Call or write your Representative and Senators and tell them you oppose Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education
- Tell your story! Call or write your state representatives to tell them you oppose any anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and/or “religious freedom defense” laws and amendments in your state
- Find information on your state representatives here: openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Please know that we at GSA Network will not falter in our commitment to trans and queer youth. We will continue to uplift youth voice and youth power and youth visions for the future. We will continue to unite trans and queer youth for racial and gender justice through our programs and our GSA Day campaigns. And we will continue to deconstruct & queer-up intersectional spaces and movements to ensure that all youth can bring their full identities to the important work ahead.
We have been working toward safer schools and communities for nearly 20 years and we plan to be here for many more. Trans and queer youth are resilient.
We are powerful. We are not going anywhere.