GSAs Build Power
Genders & Sexualities Alliances, or GSAs for short, are student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities. GSAs have evolved beyond their traditional role to serve as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth in middle schools and high schools, and have emerged as vehicles for deep social change related to racial, gender, and educational justice.
A growing body of research confirms that the presence of a GSA has a positive and lasting effect on student health, wellness, and academic performance. It can also protect students from harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and improve school climates for all students in the long-term.
In March 2020, schools across the country closed down and shifted into a virtual space due to the COVID-19 global health crisis. Many school activities and clubs were discontinued and unable to survive the move into a digital world. As trans and queer youth looked to ways to stay connected and continue to organize in a virtual setting, we created a Virtual GSAs in Action page to support them in taking their school-based GSAs online and to continue building a sense of community. All youth interested in creating or joining a virtual LGBTQ+ youth space may register to join our network and receive resources and news on training opportunities! You do not need to be part of a school GSA club to register with us.
We have also updated our Advisor Handbook (originally released in 2011) to reflect the growing needs and attitudes of the current young generation and the shift into virtual spaces. This handbook was created to support GSA advisors and adult allies as they partner with students and organizations to create thriving safe spaces for queer and trans youth.
GSAs Support School Communities
There are 3 different types of GSAs—all of which can directly impact LGBTQ+ youth: Social, Support, and Activist. Every GSA can create its own mission and goals to meet the needs of its members and the unique climate of their school.
- Social GSAs — Students meet and connect with other trans and queer students on campus
- Support GSAs — Students work to create safe spaces and talk about the various issues they face in school or their broader communities, such as discrimination from teachers or school administrators
- Activist GSAs — Students take a leadership role to improve school climate through campaigns and events that raise awareness and change policies or practices in their schools.
Direct action can come in many forms, including anti-slur campaigns, days of LGBTQ+ sensitivity or awareness, teacher trainings, and lobbying sessions to let school district officials know what they need to live authentically and thrive in school. Feeling inspired? Start your own GSA today and register to join our network!