G.S.A. Rainbow Flag

A Gay-Straight Alliance or G.S.A. can be a lifesaver for LGBTQ+ youth. It gives them a place to find resources and help, but most importantly, it gives them a community. For LGBTQ+ youth, community support can make all the difference. A Gay-Straight Alliance might also be called a Gender-Sexuality Alliance or a Pride Alliance. It is a student-led club or organization for LGBTQ+ students, as well as their straight allies. The “Straight” in a G.S.A. also provides some protection for students who have not come out to friends or family.

To start a G.S.A., you need to find a sponsor. Ask a favorite teacher if they are willing to sponsor or ask whether they know of a teacher that would be a good fit. It’s important to find a sponsor who is passionate about LGBTQ+ equality because they might get some pushback from the school administration. So you need a sponsor who will stand up for and defend the G.S.A. Once you find a sponsor, you will need their help to find out what is required to start a club or organization at your school. There will likely be some administrative paperwork that includes a mission statement, goals, and a constitution or bylaws. Goals might be raising awareness, promoting the visibility of LGBTQ+ students, and creating an inclusive and welcoming school environment. Of course, a G.S.A. will accomplish much more than this, but when you are starting your club, you want to keep the official mission statement simple. As time passes, you can change your mission and goals to meet the needs of club members better.

You might get some pushback from the school administration about starting your club. However, you have every right to start a G.S.A. at your middle school, high school, or university. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Access Act guarantee your right to form a G.S.A. as long as other non-curricular student clubs are allowed at your public school. What are non-curricular clubs? Any club that is not related to the subjects taught in school. For example, a club related to community service would be considered non-curricular. You also have the right to call your club a Gay-Straight Alliance or a Queer-Straight Alliance. The words “gay” and “queer” can be used in the name. In other words, you don’t have to call your club something like “Rainbow Friends” to please the school administration. Your freedom of speech is protected while at school. So talking about issues that affect LGBTQ+ youth is not off limits. The school cannot require parental permission to participate unless all clubs require permission. The administration cannot request a list of members of the G.S.A. If you are worried the school might ask for a list, then don’t keep an official record of members. You CAN do this! If the school administration gives you any trouble, the ACLU may be able to help.

Check out these resources for more information:

Lambda Legal– Details your legal right to start a G.S.A.

Lambda Legal: Your Speech Rights at School– Provides details about protected speech.

ACLU: How to Start a Gay-Straight Alliance– Lots of good information on this page, including common arguments against G.S.A.’s

GLSEN– Offers school resources and free stickers to support Solidarity Week, No Name-Calling Week, and the Day of Silence.

GSA Network– Offers resources, trainings, and support.

Frameline: Youth in Motion– Provides free LGBTQ+ films and curriculum guides to G.S.A’s and educators in schools nationwide.

Trans Youth Equality Foundation– Offers free binders and gaffs for youth under the age of 18. However, you have to pay a shipping fee of $8. Find the Google donation form here.

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers– Find your closest Pride Center. They might be able to tell you about non-profit organizations in your state that provide resources like free counseling, gaffs, and binders.