PFLAG Bellevue/Eastside encourages the creation of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) for middle and high school students and strives to support the ones in our local schools. A GSA is a student-led organizations (generally sponsored by a teacher or other adult), where LGBTQ students and their allies work and socialize together to provide a supportive, accepting, and safe environment, both in the GSA space and throughout their middle or high school. Some GSAs now prefer names like Rainbow Club or Sex and Gender Alliance to better reflect the entire LGBTQ community.
For schools that do not yet have a GSA, creating one can have powerful impact on all students.
- It can be a crucial lifeline to LGBTQ students, who are at significantly heightened risk for bullying, harassment, and suicide, particularly those students who feel isolated and unsupported by their family/school/place of worship.
- It can call upon straight ally students to more actively and openly support their LGBTQ peers.
- It can increase the success and well-being of LGBTQ students at school. Research shows that LGBTQ students in a school with a GSA feel safer, experience less slurs, and have better attendance than students in schools without one.
- It can teach students about their rights. It is a federal right of students to start a GSA at their school, regardless of whether the school supports or even tries to stop it.
If you are a student or teacher of an Eastside school who wants to create a Gay Straight Alliance for your school—or enhance an existing one—here are some helpful resources:
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), a leading safe schools organization with numerous state chapters, including one in Washington, provides a Jump Start Guide and other GSA Tools.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides instructions and video on how to start a GSA. You can also contact them for further instruction and support: if you feel the issue is more urgent, they encourage you to call them at (212) 549-2673. All your communication with them is kept private and confidential, even if you are minor: they will not notify your parents, school, or anyone else without your permission.
- Frameline, a nonprofit media arts organization that produces the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, has a Youth in Motion program that empowers LGBTQ youth by sending life changing films from past Festivals, complete with curricula and action guides, to K-12 GSAs for free.
- The Gay Straight Alliance Network is a youth-driven organization that empowers students to create safer schools. Its website extensively covers GSA topics for students and also provides guidelines for advisors and adult allies on how they can help start and sustain a GSA at their school.
If you have any further questions or need additional support, please contact us for help.