Why Have a GSA

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question about Gay-Straight Alliances or other safer space clubs? Want to learn more? Check out our answers to frequently asked questions regarding GSAs.

What is a GSA?

A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is an official student club with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) and heterosexual student membership and one or two teachers who serve as faculty advisors. Students in a school with a GSA know that they have at least one or two adults they can talk to about LGBTQ matters. The purpose of a GSA is to provide a much-needed safer space in which LGBTQ students and allies can work together on making their schools more welcoming for all members of school communities, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such groups also function as safe havens and supports for students with LGBTQ parents, other family members, and friends.

Why should I support a GSA?

GSAs provide safer community spaces where students can promote rights for all people and build safer and more accepting school environments. Safer spaces within schools are extremely important for LGBTQ youth and their allies because they may be the only place for youth to access authentic peer support without danger or the threat of non-acceptance. Furthermore, having a GSA in your school can benefit all students (LGBTQ or otherwise) by addressing multiple kinds of discrimination while promoting diversity and inclusivity among the student body and school community as a whole.

Why have a GSA if there are no LGBTQ students in our school?

Even if LGBTQ students—or staff members—are not out at your school, or not out to you, please do not assume that they are not there. It is possible that they simply are not comfortable being out there, and it is also possible that LGBTQ matters are important and relevant to students and staff at your school because they have LGBTQ parents, other family members, or friends. Be proactive in taking a leadership role by making your entire school community a safer space and, consequently, a better learning environment!

Consider that there may be folks at your school who choose not to identify publicly as LGBTQ because they do not yet have a place to share that part of their identity. In such instances, establishing a GSA could serve as a first step towards creating a truly accepting community environment. Even without LGBTQ members, GSAs can do a world of good by addressing a variety of types of discrimination. Through challenging gender role stereotypes as well as classism, racism, heterosexism, and other inequalities, GSAs have the potential to benefit all learning environments.

I am straight—why should I be involved/can I be involved?

Yes, you can and should! GSAs are open to everyone. If you have an interest in working towards creating a safer and more inclusive environment in your school community, then check out your local GSA. One thing to remember is that everyone comes to GSA meetings with her or his own personal story (even you), so bring open ears and plenty of respect.

I want to start a GSA, but I don't feel safe or supported...

If your main concern is keeping a low profile, consider starting a club with a name focused on diversity or acceptance that might not immediately sound like a GSA. Examples of such names are "Social Justice Club" or "Human Rights Club." It is important to have support when starting any kind of GSA or trying to establish a safer space. Ask yourself if you have any good, close friends—LGBTQ or allies—who might be able to help with running a GSA or safer space. Are there any teachers or administrators who you feel comfortable approaching who might be willing to help? Look around your community and find out if there are any other groups already in existence or if other schools (including post-secondary institutions, such as colleges and universities) nearby have LGBTQ groups. Perhaps people involved in these organizations can offer assistance.