How Educators Can Help Gay-Straight Alliances

How Educators Can Help Gay-Straight Alliances

Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) are clubs for LGBTQ youth and straight allies. There are more than 4,000 GSAs in schools nationwide.

GSAs can provide support, foster community, cultivate leadership skills and reduce discrimination.

To learn more about Gay-Straight Alliances, click here or visit www.gsanetwork.org or www.glsen.org.

If you’re an educator, you can lend vital support to your school’s gay-straight alliance (GSA).

  • Become a club sponsor or co-sponsor. Most schools require clubs to have faculty sponsors.
  • Send inquiries around to other faculty members, if you would like to help but lack time.
  • Propose ideas for discussion or activities, as long as you don’t appear to direct, conduct, control or regularly attend meetings. GSAs are student-initiated and student-run, so students dictate their groups’ missions and activities. As an advisor or ally guest, you can

In the classroom, teachers should be aware that they may not enjoy much free-speech protection for discussing LGBTQ issues (though generally there are employment contracts that allow for warnings before adverse action is taken). Like other employers, schools are allowed to limit what is said by employees on the job and can also create curricula that prescribe what can be taught.

Contact Lambda Legal (866-542-8336 or visit www.lambdalegal.org/help) if you or your children or students:

  • Encounter any resistance to forming a GSA
  • Experience frustration because the administration is not responding to their request to start a GSA
  • Are told that the school will not provide access to the school website, public address system, bulletin boards or poster space when other noncurricular clubs have access
  • Are told that the school forbids the use of the school name in association with the GSA, or the use of words or expressions like “gay” or “LGBTQ” in their GSA’s name.
  • Discover that the school bans or blocks websites with LGBTQ information.
  • Are told their faculty advisor may not participate in their meetings, even though faculty advisors participate in other clubs
  • Are told that they cannot have outside speakers
  • Have their GSA meetings monitored by administrators or staff
  • Are told they need parental permission to participate.