How to Start a Gay-Straight Alliance
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) allow gay and straight students to join together to support each other and create a more welcoming school environment. GSA’s are often the first stop for LGBT students looking for resources and safety among peers.
If your school does not currently have a GSA and you would like to be the sponsoring faculty adviser, here is a quick guide to starting one on your campus.
Find a Student Leader or Student Leaders
Find a supportive student or students who are willing to join you in this journey, invest the time and effort into the club, and are a true believers in the mission. The students will be the prime promoters and beneficiaries of the GSA. Your job as the adviser is to advocate for the implementation of the GSA club at the school.
Follow school guidelines to start a club
Look up in your student handbook the guidelines and rules for starting a club on your campus. Speak with administrators if you have any questions or clarifications. Follow the guidelines and work with your students to submit it to the school administration.
Work out the details
When, where, and how often will you meet? What are the club’s ground rules? Have the basic details worked out with the help of your students before your first meeting.
Spread the word
Tell coworkers, administrators, and students about the start of the club. With the help of your students, put up flyers and posters (follow school rules) and have an announcement in the school bulletin and newspaper. Make sure students know the GSA is a safe space.
Have your first meeting
Welcome everyone and communicate the ground rules. Members may want to develop more club guidelines now that you have your founding group. Have students get to know each other and emphasize safety and respect. Guide members in developing a mission statement, setting short and long term goals, and planning some activities.
What to do if your administration says no:
See the ACLU’s guide on starting a GSA:
“If your school turns you down, tells you that you have to change the name of your GSA or that it can't be focused on LGBT issues, tells you that students have to have parental permission to join the GSA when it doesn't require that for other clubs, or tries to tell you that the GSA can't do things that other clubs get to do like have a photo in the yearbook or make club announcements, you should contact the ACLU. We might be able to help!”
They also have a handy guide of responses to common arguments against GSAs.