Lance Helms sent a message to the members of Safe Schools for All, a Facebook group, and I am pasting it in here.
Subject: Summer reading: GSA 101
Whether you're a student, parent or concerned community member, one of the ways you can support safe schools for all is to support the formation of GSA's, or gay-straight alliances, when school is back in session next fall.
Not limited to gay students by any means, GSA's are commonly inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning students and their allies.
Supporting GSA youth is as simple as asking any student you know whether their school has a GSA. If not, maybe they'd like to consider starting one next fall, when most student clubs get formed.
For any student who'd like to know more about how to start a GSA in their school, Lambda Legal has an excellent GSA resource that's part of their "Out, Safe & Respected" toolkit for LGBTQ students. Here's an excerpt:
"A gay-straight alliance, or GSA, is a club for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning students and straight allies.
"There are lots of different kinds of GSA's. GSA's can be social clubs (some GSA's host dances and movie nights), support groups (some GSA's provide a safe place for LGBTQ students and their allies to talk about problems), educational outposts (some GSA's organize guest speakers or create displays for National Coming Out Day) or advocacy groups (some GSA's participate in GLSEN’s National Day of Silence or push for sexual orientation and gender identity to be added to their school’s nondiscrimination policy).
"Talk with your friends, reach out to other students and decide what you’d like your GSA to focus on. There are more than 3,000 GSA's in schools nationwide, and there is lots of information available about forming a GSA. No matter what its focus is, your GSA can play an important role in addressing homophobia and anti-transgender discrimination and can help create a safe space for LGBTQ students."
So start the conversation today! Chances are, whoever you start the conversation with will be glad you did.
Lambda Legal's "So You Wanna Start A GSA":
Lambda Legal's "Out, Safe & Respected":
http://www.lambdalegal.org/ publications/out-safe- respected/
PFLAG's Safe Schools / Cultivating Respect homepage:
Yours in community,
PFLAG Gulf Regional Director