Want to start a GSA at your school?

Stand up for your rights!

Follow the rules. Find out what your school’s rules are for starting a student group (you may find them in your student handbook or you may ask for them in the principal’s office) and follow them carefully. You may have to find a school employee to sponsor the GSA (some schools also allow people outside the school to be sponsors), write a mission statement, or develop a set of rules for members.

Make your case. 1) Research shows that in schools with GSAs, students experience less anti-LGBT verbal and physical bullying, LGBT students are less likely to miss school, and students report improved school experiences, academic achievement and future goals.*

2) Be prepared to respond to the arguments you might hear against GSAs -

  • “A GSA is a club about sex.” Your school has the facts wrong. GSAs are not about sex, but about recognizing diversity and acceptance of all students and people in the school community and beyond, including LGBT, straight and questioning people. Also, GSAs welcome any student, not just LGBT students who are interested in creating a safe space for LGBT students and students with LGBT parents and in promoting tolerance and equality for LGBT persons. Student members decide together what the group’s specific mission and activities will be.

  • “We’ve already got a diversity club.” You – not your teachers principal, or school board – get to decide what kind of student group you’ll have, including its name and its mission. Even if there is a diversity club at your school, it may not be a safe space for LGBT students. Homophobic remarks are among the most frequently heard expressions of bias in schools, so a GSA’s focus on the safety and acceptance of LGBT students makes sense.

Keep notes. While starting a GSA shouldn’t be any different from starting another student group, your school may resist your efforts or create different rules for you to follow. White down the details of your efforts to start a GSA, including the dates you did something, what you did, and the names of people you spoke to, so that you’ll be prepared if your school unfairly refuses to approve the GSA. If you give your principal or activities director a club application or something else in writing, make a copy for yourself.

Contact the ACLU of Illinois or the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. If your school won’t approve your GSA, gives you the run around, or refuses to treat your GSA the same as other student groups, contact on of these groups.