Every student has the right to belong to a gay-straight alliance (GSA) or queer-straight alliance (QSA). As a student, you also have the right to start a GSA/QSA if your school does not have one. Look for a diverse group of allies to help start a GSA/QSA in your school. Allies are people who support and stand up for the human and civil rights of people who identify as LGBTQ. Allies could be students or staff.
If your school does not have a GSA/QSA and you would like to start one, the first step is to notify your school leadership, so that they can identify a supportive liaison.
GSA/QSA liaisons add stability and continuity to the group. The liaison can be a teacher, school staff, principal or community member supervised by staff. If your school leadership is unable to find a GSA/QSA liaison, your principal should contact the school board and the Minister of Education will appoint a responsible adult to work with your GSA/QSA.
It is important to approach your school leadership about starting a GSA/QSA, so that they can ensure you have the support you need.
Once your GSA/QSA is in place, continue to work with your school leadership, which includes the principal, as they are an important connection between students, teachers, and the larger community. Supportive school leadership is essential to creating welcoming, caring, respectful, safe and inclusive school environments.
If you already have a liaison for your GSA/QSA and you want some help on how to set it up, you can work with the Provincial GSA Coordinator. The Provincial GSA Coordinator is funded by Alberta Education and Alberta Human Services and is provided by the Institute of Sexual and Minority Studies at the University of Alberta.
Once your GSA/QSA is set-up, discuss the best ways to promote it within your school. Spread the word by using a variety of communication tools. You may consider including messages announcing the first meeting on your school website, school announcements or a poster. Sometimes, just knowing your school has a GSA/QSA makes students feel safe and affirmed, even if they never attend a meeting.
Remember to emphasize that all students are welcome to be part of your school's GSA/QSA. Reach out to both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ students - the group's diversity can be its greatest strength.
Once you have a date set for your first meeting, plan the agenda. Here are some things to consider:
Once you have your club started, you may wish to establish the following:
Work with the group members to develop an action plan to make your GSA/QSA an active presence in your school. Think about some activities and goals for the group. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and have fun!