What is a GSA/QSA? A gay–straight alliance (GSA) or queer-straight alliance (QSA) is a student-led or community-based organization, found in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. GSA/QSAs provide a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ2 youth and their allies. A gay–straight alliance may also be known by another name, such as gender–sexuality alliance.
GSAs/QSAs are peer support networks run primarily by youth and supported by adults and promote:
equity for sexual and gender minority students.
safe, caring and inclusive spaces for all students to prevent or eliminate bullying and discrimination.
GSAs/QSAs help LGBTQ students overcome feelings of isolation and alienation that are a result of homophobic and transphobic bullying. They empower students as they develop a sense of belonging in their school. GSAs/QSAs also help interested students become allies for their LGBTQ peers and provide a safe place to help understand and learn how to offer support. Unfortunately, many LGBTQ2 youth live in fear of being rejected by their family and peers and are afraid of homophobic and transphobic bullying. Many LGBTQ2 youth become isolated and believe that they have to hide their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression from the world. Research tells us that LGBTQ2 students are more likely to feel safe and are more comfortable being open about their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression in schools with GSAs/QSAs because they provide a place to create a sense of belonging.
There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach for GSAs/QSAs in schools. Each one is different. Almost all GSA/QSA meetings involve discussions about making our schools and ourselves more inclusive and safer for all students. GSAs/QSAs help celebrate the uniqueness and importance of diversity and inclusiveness. They help students learn about different life experiences while working to end homophobia, transphobia and promoting equity and quality for all. All GSAs/QSAs should be safe spaces for students to discuss issues like bullying, coming out and making schools and communities more inclusive.
GSAs/QSAs are associated with better mental health outcomes, such as less depression less general psychological distress and higher self-esteem than students without a GSA at their school.
Creating Authentic Spaces: A Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit to Support the Implementation of Institutional and Social Change. http://www.the519.org/education-training/training-resources/our-resources/creating-authentic-spaces This resource is designed to support screen readers. Our Creating Authentic Spaces toolkit and education program is part of our efforts to challenge transphobia and to foster environments that are inclusive of gender identity and gender expression. People who identify as trans often experience barriers to accessing necessary services due to discrimination or harassment based on their gender identity and gender expression.
Creating Authentic Spaces: A Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit: http://www.the519.org/education-training/glossary Our Creating Authentic Spaces toolkit and education program is part of our efforts to challenge transphobia and to foster environments that are inclusive of gender identity and gender expression. People who identify as trans often experience barriers to accessing necessary services due to discrimination or harassment based on their gender identity and gender expression.
Gender Spectrum: Principles of Gender-Inclusive Puberty and Health Education https://genderspectrum.org/articles/puberty-and-health-ed The principles are designed to affirm and recognize all students so they can see themselves reflected in their classrooms and learn knowledge and skills associated with healthy behaviors. Gender-inclusive puberty and health education (PHE) benefits all students because it recognizes and affirms all students. All young people have a right to accurate information to make healthy, informed decisions about their bodies and their relationships. Beyond their own unique development, this includes understanding the diversity of human experiences they will encounter as adults. Without access to gender-inclusive PHE, many students are left to believe that they are alone as they struggle to make sense of rapidly changing bodies and feelings. Nowhere is this potential for feeling alone and invisible more prevalent than among Transgender and other gender expansive students. But research shows that support for transgender students by schools and families is critical for their well-being. The power of schools to make a difference in young people’s lives by reflecting their experiences through curriculum and other supportive strategies cannot be overstated. Simply stated, gender-inclusive PHE is life-affirming for all students, and life-saving for some.
Ready Set Respect: https://www.glsen.org/readysetrespect GLSEN’s Elementary School ToolkitWe all want students to feel safe and respected and to develop respectful attitudes and behaviors. GLSEN developed Ready, Set, Respect! to provide tools to support elementary educators like you with these efforts.
Recommended Fiction and Nonfiction Resources for K-12 Schools 2nd Edition Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://www2.epl.ca/public-files/booklets/epsb-recommended-resources-sexual-orientation_2014.pdf Materials in this resource list support Edmonton Public Schools’ Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy and administrative regulations and demonstrate the District’s commitment to provide safe, welcoming, inclusive, and equitable environments, which are free of discrimination and harassment for all students, staff, and families who identify or are perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, queer, and/or questioning.
Respectful Schools Online Toolkit: http://respectfulschools.ca You will find resources, organizations, and opportunities to share and learn more about human rights in Alberta. Welcoming, caring, respectful and safe schools and communities are the responsibility of all Albertans. This Toolkit uses the lens of human rights to help build a society based on dignity and respect. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a school leader, or a community member, this Toolkit supports your work with children and youth.
Schools in Transition: https://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/Schools-In-Transition.pdf This guide responds to the dynamics that affect a transgender student’s experiences in school. The guide is geared toward the needs of all students, kindergarten through twelfth grade, and incorporates distinctions and recommendations based on the specific ages and stages of students’ development.
See Different: https://ccdi.ca/toolkits/ Teacher Toolkit Online resources have been created to share best practices based on the See Different-school program. The games, exercises and concepts have supported high school teachers in bringing diversity and inclusion content into their classrooms. The toolkits include classroom or extracurricular programming material, which help high school students to value and embrace diversity and inclusion.
Still Here, Still Queer: A Handbook for Affirming LGBTQ Older Adults http://www.the519.org/education-training/training-resources/our-resources/still-here-still-queer Still Here, Still Queer is part of our efforts to foster environments for older adults that are inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. LGBTQ older adults often experience barriers to accessing necessary services due to discrimination or harassment based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
University of Victoria Transgender Archives https://www.uvic.ca/transgenderarchives/ The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria is committed to the preservation of the history of pioneering activists, community leaders, and researchers who have contributed to the betterment of trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people. Since 2007, we have been actively acquiring documents, rare publications, and memorabilia of persons and organizations associated with activism by and for trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people.
Gender Spectrum https://www.genderspectrum.org We provide an array of services to help youth, families, organizations and institutions understand and address concepts of Gender identity and Gender expression, including how societal, cultural, organizational and community definitions of gender can be detrimental to any young person that does not fit neatly into these categories. Gender Spectrum provides professional development to help institutions and organizations understand youth’s evolving conceptions of Gender identity and the impact this has on current and future practices in their field.
GLSEN https://www.glsen.org At GLSEN, we want every student, in every school, to be valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We believe that all students deserve a safe and affirming school environment where they can learn and grow. We accomplish our goals by working in hallways across the country -- from Congress and the Department of Education to schools and district offices in your community -- to improve school climate and champion LGBT issues in K-12 education.
GSA Network https://gsanetwork.org GSA clubs–originally called Gay-Straight Alliance clubs when they first established in the 1980s–are student-run organizations, typically in a high school or middle school, which provide a safe place for students to meet, support each other, and talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. There are three typical functions of a GSA club: Support, Social, and Activist. While GSA clubs have traditionally served as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth to build awareness and community as well as prevent discrimination and harassment in schools, they are now emerging as vehicles for deeper social change that extends beyond individual schools. Trans and queer youth are building their power through GSA organizing and connecting to state and national campaigns on a variety of issues that affect all students across the country.
PFLAG Canada http://pflagcanada.ca PFLAG Canada is a national charitable organization, founded by parents who wished to help themselves and their family members understand and accept their non-heterosexual children. The "coming-out" process can be a critical time for families. When the adjustment period is particularly long or painful, relationships can become permanently damaged, resulting in a lifetime of emotional scars. People cannot always rise above the challenge of accepting themselves or their family member, and the results can be devastating, even fatal. We support these families through today, and give them hope for a better tomorrow.
Supportive Parents http://www.supportiveparents.ca This website is a resource for Alberta families who are facing challenges in supporting the LGBTQ2S+ youth in their lives. Through online resources, peer networks, opinion pieces written by families across the province, surveys, and special events, this site will be a place for those to find the support they need.
TSER http://www.transstudent.org Trans Student Educational Resources is a youth-led organization dedicated to transforming the educational environment for trans and gender nonconforming students through advocacy and empowerment. In addition to our focus on creating a more trans-friendly education system, our mission is to educate the public and teach trans activists how to be effective organizers. We believe that justice for trans and gender nonconforming youth is contingent on an intersectional framework of activism. Ending oppression is a long-term process that can only be achieved through collaborative action.
The Trevor Project https://www.thetrevorproject.org/#sm.000001q02mo4peneaarpzciz0w1a9 Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.