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Starting a Gay Straight Alliance in Your School


65% of LGB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual) people experience homophobic bullying ... Challenge stigmatism of LGBT families in lessons about families, marriages and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Starting a Gay Straight Alliance in Your School

Starting a Gay Straight Alliance in Your School
(and running)
Challenging homophobia
Training teachers
Finding resources
Having fun
Changing your school
Why start a GSA?
  • 65 of LGB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual) people
    experience homophobic bullying
  • 97 of LGB students hear derogatory phrases such
    as dyke or poof used in school
  • 1/2 of teachers fail to respond to homophobic
    language when they hear it.
  • A Gay Straight Alliance can be a place of support
    and education!

The School Report Stonewall 2007
What can a GSA do?
  • Set up staff training
  • Create a safe place for LGBT people
  • Meet awesome people
  • Change the climate of your school!
  • Have LGBT friendly social events
  • Get connected to LGBT organizations and support

Convince Your School
(how to)
Effects of homophobia
More statistics
The Costs of Homophobia
  • Alcohol and drug misuse
  • Truancy to escape persecution
  • Giving up on academic achievement
  • Too hard to work in a hostile environment
  • Suffering from mental and/or physical health
  • Such as eating disorders, as a result of anxiety
    and eroded self esteem

Homophobia in Schools
  • 98 of LGBT pupils hear thats so gay at school
  • 75 of young LGBT people in faith schools
    experience homophobic bullying and are less
    likely than pupils in other schools to report it
  • Only 1/4 of schools say that homophobic bullying
    is wrong in their school
  • 30 of LGBT pupils report that adults are
    responsible for homophobic incidents at their

The School Report Stonewall 2007
  • 58 of LGBT pupils dont report bullying when
    they experience it
  • If a teacher is informed, 62 of the time,
    nothing is done
  • 7 of teachers are reported to respond when they
    hear homophobic language
  • The School Report Stonewall 2007
  • 90 of 15-24 year olds have been called names
    because of their sexuality
  • Profiles of Prejudice Stonewall and Mori 2003
  • Black, Asian, disabled and younger pupils are all
    more likely to experience homophobic violence
  • Uneven Vulnerability GALOP

Your Legal Rights
(how to fight for)
The government is on your side
Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) 2007
  • Discrimination
  • Is when you are treated less favorably than
    someone else because of your real or perceived
    sexual orientation.
  • It is unlawful for your school to discriminate
    against a person who seeks to use its facilities
    or services based on real or perceived sexual
  • Starting a GSA
  • It is unlawful for your school to discriminate
    against a pupil by refusing the pupil access to
    any benefit, facility or service based on real or
    perceived sexual orientation.

Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) 2007 (what it
  • Clubs
  • If your school has other school sponsored clubs
    but wont let you start a GSA because of the
    nature of the club it is being discriminatory
    under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation)
  • School Activities
  • You are allowed to take part in all school
    activities such as sports, lessons, assemblies
    and dances and cant be denied access because of
    real or perceived sexual orientation

Learning and Skills Act 2000 Sex and Relationship
Guide 2000
  • It is now required for teachers to
  • Challenge stigmatism of LGBT families in lessons
    about families, marriages and stable
  • Give positive information of LGBT people to
    enable pupils to challenge derogatory stereotypes
    and prejudice
  • Challenge all forms of homophobic bullying
  • Ofsted will now include addressing homophobic
    bullying in their inspections

Every Child Matters (DfES 2004)
  • Ofsted will report on how schools promote
  • Physical and mental health
  • Safety and protection from harm and neglect
  • Enjoying and achieving
  • Positive contributions by being positively
    involved in community and society
  • Economic wellbeing

What it all Means
  • Schools are currently hostile environments for
    LGBT students and their allies
  • Schools have a responsibility to protect their
    students regardless of sexual orientation
  • Schools are legally required to promote equality
    and safety
  • Schools cant discriminate based on real or
    perceived sexual orientation
  • You have the right to be safe and comfortable at
    school and your school has the responsibility to
    make sure you are!

  • The queer alphabet LGBTQQAIP…
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer,
    questioning, a-sexual, intersexed, pansexual
  • Homo/Bi/Transphobia
  • The irrational fear and hatred of LGBT people
  • A homo/bi/transphobic incident is any incident
    which is perceived to be homo/bi/transphobic to
    the victim or another person
  • It is directed to impact those known or perceived
    to be LGBT
  • Heterosexism
  • Is a set of assumptions and practices that
    promotes heterosexual relationships as the only
    natural and valid form of sexual orientation
  • Recognises/rewards those who are heterosexual and
    ignores/penalises those who are not

  • Sexual Orientation
  • Describes who you are physically and sexually
    attracted to
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Questioning, Straight
  • Sex
  • Biological characteristics such as chromosomes,
    genitalia, hormones
  • Female, Male, Intersexed
  • Gender
  • How you feel and experience your gender
  • Not defined by your sex!
  • Gender is fluid masculine, feminine,
    androgynous, genderqueer…
  • Transgender
  • A person who doesnt identify with their
    biological sex
  • Might go through surgery, might not
  • Ally
  • A straight person who is supportive of the LGBT

How do you start a GSA?
  • Find some supportive friends who want to help out
  • Ask a teacher to be a sponsor
  • Establish the club like any other club
  • Look in your Student Handbook for the rules at
    your school. This may include getting permission
    from senior management, finding an advisor,
    and/or writing a constitution.
  • Inform the senior management team
  • It can be very helpful to have the senior
    management on your side. They can work as
    liaisons on your behalf with other teachers,
    parent groups, community members, and the school
    board. If the senior management team is resistant
    to the GSA, let them know that forming a GSA club
    is protected under the Equality Act (Sexual

  • Inform guidance counselors/school nurses
  • They might know some students who would be
    interested in joining
  • Pick a meeting place and advertise
  • Figure out the best way to advertise at your
    school. It may be a combination of school
    bulletin announcements, flyers, and
    word-of-mouth. If your flyers are defaced or torn
    down, do not be discouraged. Keep putting them
    back up. Eventually, whoever is tearing them down
    will give up.
  • Advertising for your group and having words up
    such as "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or
    questioning" or "end homophobia" or "discuss
    sexual orientation" can be part of educating the
    school and can actually make other students feel
    safer -- even if they never attend a single
  • Bring food
  • Everyone loves food!

GSA Network How to Start a GSA
But My Schools Too Homophobic!
How to start a GSA without support
Getting support
Staying safe
Be prepared
(creating change without a GSA)
  • Find supportive people
  • Inform your senior management and staff about the
    laws protecting LGBT youth
  • Ask staff to discuss LGBT History Month, IDAHO
    (International Day Against Homophobia) and other
    LGBT events
  • Bring your friends to LGBT youth groups
  • Stay informed!

Finding Support
  • Friends
  • Parents
  • If your parents or guardians are supportive, they
    can be a great resource to pressure the school
  • Staff
  • Is there an openly LGBT teacher?
  • Are guidance counselors/school nurses supportive?
  • Is there a health or PHSRE/citizenship teacher?
  • Community support
  • Community LGBT youth groups have great resources
    and could provide you with an ally
  • National organizations such as Schools OUT,
    Chrysalis and Stonewall have many contacts and
    will know someone in your area
  • REMEMBER! You have the legal right to have a GSA
    and to feel safe at your school

Staying Safe
  • Dont do anything that will put you in physical
  • Always plan events with teachers and senior
    management present
  • Inform your staff advisor of your plans in
  • Hold events in a safe space with allies and
    friends present
  • Know your rights
  • Look over your schools student handbook and know
    your rights at school
  • Talk with community groups to get ideas for safe

Keep it Simple
  • Start out slow
  • Before you plan a school assembly on homophobia,
    introduce more subtle ways to combat ignorance
    and intolerance
  • Put up safe space posters in teachers classrooms
  • Give teachers and librarians LGBT friendly books
    and movies to put up and show off
  • Hold a meeting with senior management and staff
    about the needs of LGBT students at your school
  • Make it about safety
  • Creating a GSA and having LGBT friendly events is
    about creating a safe space for LGBT people to
    learn and live

Be Prepared
  • Can be hard work
  • Setting up a GSA and running LGBT friendly events
    can be hard work, especially when dealing with
    tough senior management and staff.
  • Make sure to take time for yourself and have some
  • Celebrate your achievements and always keep a
    supportive group of friends and allies with you

I Have a GSA, Now What?
Fun activities
Resources and tools
Developing a strategy
Creating change
Planning events
  • Having fun
  • Being inclusive
  • Getting resources
  • Safe space posters
  • LGBT friendly posters
  • Fundraising
  • LGBT History Month!
  • Surveys
  • Day of Silence
  • Public Speaking
  • Training Staff!

Fun Things To Do
  • LGBT movie night
  • Throw a party
  • Have a picnic or baking party
  • Plan trips to LGBT places in town
  • Coffee shops
  • LGBT youth groups
  • Dance party

Being Inclusive
  • Make sure every one has a space to speak
  • Be sure every one is comfortable
  • Dont separate into boys and girls
  • Hold anti-oppression/racism workshops
  • Commission for Equality and Human Rights
  • Build coalitions with other clubs and community

Remember, LGBT people are
foster parents
Getting Resources
  • Community Groups
  • Schools OUT
  • LGBT youth groups
  • Community and school counselors
  • Online
  • GSA Network
  • LGBT History Month
  • Stonewall
  • Queer Youth Network
  • EACH
  • Chrysalis
  • No Outsiders
  • National Union of Teachers

Safe Space Posters
  • Give to supportive teachers to put in classrooms
  • Put GSA information on them so people know where
    to go
  • The "Safe Zone" symbol is a message to LGBT youth
    and adult allies. A person displaying this symbol
    is one who will be understanding, supportive, and
    trustworthy if a LGBT youth needs help, advice,
    or just someone with whom they can talk

GSA Network Hate Free Zone
  • Club bank account
  • Become familiar with your school's system for
    financing student organizations. How do clubs set
    up bank accounts? Where will donations go? Who
    will donation checks be made out to? Who has the
    power to sign checks? Talk to other student
    leaders at your school, your advisor, and the
    senior management team to get ideas and advice.
  • Fundraising as a club activity
  • Have a bake sale or car wash - it's not very
    original, but it usually works. Or add your own
    twist - instead of selling just cookies, sell
    cookies with rainbow chocolate chips.
  • Sponsor a play, concert, or other cultural event
    to benefit your GSA. You might also consider
    donating part of the proceeds to a community
    organization or charity.
  • Look into community grant making programs.

GSA Network GSA Fundraising
Survey Your School
  • Teachers and senior management not listening?
  • Use already made surveys as a guide
  • Survey your own school to show that homophobia is
    a problem
  • Find out what problems are most important at your

LGBT History Month
  • Every February is LGBT History Month
  • Now in its fourth year, LGBT HM is the largest
    cultural and educational LGBT event in world
  • Celebrate LGBT history at your school with
    posters, assemblies, movies, speakers and parties

Day of Silence
  • The Day of Silence is an annual event held to
    bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying, harassment
    and discrimination in schools. Students and
    teachers will observe the day in silence to echo
    the silence that LGBT and ally students face
  • Inform teachers and senior management for their
  • Make badges, T-Shirts and flyers to advertise the
  • Have a rally before school to get everyone
    involved and excited
  • Dont speak for the entire day!

Training Staff
  • Schools OUT leads staff training about anti-LGBT
    harassment, discrimination, bullying and the
    development of an inclusive curriculum
  • Training teaches staff how to respond to
    homophobic bullying, create a school environment
    that is safe for everyone and create and deliver
    a curriculum that is appropriate to the needs of
  • To get your staff trained, contact Schools OUT

Peer Education Workshops
  • Educating your peers about issues of sexual
    orientation and homophobia can be one of the most
    effective ways to make your school safer for
    LGBTQ students, and GSAs are a great framework
    for implementing an anti-homophobia peer
    education program.
  • Come up with a lesson plan for the workshop or
    download one online from a LGBT community group
  • Some places to look are
  • GSA Network
  • Schools OUT
  • Chrysalis

Points to Remember
  • There is something you can do about the
    homophobia at your school
  • There is legislation that protects you
  • There are support organizations that can help you
  • School is legally supposed to be a safe place to
    learn for everyone