Being a teenager is hard, but being a GLBTQ teenager can be even harder. Feelings of being an outcast, confusion about not understanding why you feel the way you do, fear of being judged, misunderstood, or even hurt, and even concern about how your loved ones will react. Some GLBTQ youth face the threat of being thrown out of their homes or worse. One way that some schools and organizations have tried to make this easier is with the creation of gay/straight alliances (GSA). These may have different names, different meeting times and places, and different goals, but they are united under one cause; to create a safe (or safer) and welcoming environment for GLBTQ young people as well as their Allies.
There are organizations, such as GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) and GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and even the HRC (Human Rights Campaign), which have tools, workshops, and information which can help start a GSA or work with existing ones.
GLSEN is an especially good resource. Over the years they have worked to create and modify "kits" which can be used to help students and faculty create an effective GSA. They have tools such as "The GLSEN Jump-Start Guide for Gay-Straight Alliances" which includes information and instructions "designed to help you jump-start - or bring fresh and creative energy to - your student club." This can be found by going to GLSEN “Jump-Start” Kit . Have you ever heard or seen information about the National Day of Silence? What about the Days of Action of the No Name Calling Week? All of these are projects that GLSEN sponsor and organize.
GLAAD is also a great resource for kits and information. They have a list of these here: GLAAD Resource Kits .
The HRC has a Youth & Campus Outreach Program which offers students the ability to connect with each other, see if there are organizations that are near them, and even attend conferences and events. The main page for this program can be found here, HRC program
Some of you may be familiar with “The Laramie Project” or remember when the story of the death of Matthew Shepard in 1998. This horrific story and the national media attention that resulted from it is one of the reasons that GSA’s have been created or continued over the last 12 years. For more information, please follow the links under the questions at the bottom.
Have you ever heard of Gay/Straight Alliances and did your school have one?
What do you think about the idea of GSA’s, are they still needed in schools today?
Have you ever been involved in an organization which brought groups together with the goals of education, understanding, and safety?
Did you know any GLBTQ people in high school? If so, were they involved in a GSA?
Have you ever been involved in an even sponsored by GLSEN or GLAAD like the Day of Silence?
Have you ever heard of The Laramie Project or other information on the story of Matthew Shepard?
The Laramie Project
The Matthew Shepard Foundation
The Day of Silence
by Laramie Ruggiero of Team 4: Rachel Cina, Molley Foley, Laura Koehler, Laramie Ruggiero, Laura Hickey