I went in looking for some understanding, wanting to meet new people, and generally expecting to sit back for the ride.
What I actually found at the meeting was 5 members, 1 teacher-sponsor, 1 advisor, and a box of cinnamon rolls. The group was small, but hey, at least it was there! My friend Chyna, who I'd talked to before joining, was the unspoken leader and driving force. Her obvious passion and dedication to the cause made me want to do more. Our GSA could use some fresh ideas and motivation, so I decided to help light the fire.
GSAs have 3 main purposes:
- Provide Support and acceptance for LGBTQ teens struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. Establish a place where LGBTQ and straight ally students can comfortably discuss issues that matter to them.
- Take initiative to Educate the school community, combat hostility, and transform schools into accepting and friendly environments
- Empower and mobilize youth LGBT and allies to Advocate for LGBTQ rights and issues in the broader community
This year, I see us focusing the most on the second objective. There's a general atmosphere of ignorance and apathy around our school that's absolutely suffocating and unnacceptable. You wouldn't believe how many "That's so gay"s and "Fag" comments I hear in the hallways.
My goal is to create a movement. I want more than anything to reach my peers and help them understand... because without them, none of it matters. I envision a day when it will be soooo uncool for those slurs to come out of anyone's mouth. Students will be proud to identify as straight allies. That's the school I want to go to, so that is the school that I will make it.
(yeah, leave it to the Indian girl to quote Gandhi)
The best resources I've found so far are California's GSA network website and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network). GSA network offers a wealth of information for starting and running successful GSAs. GLSEN is an amazing powerhouse of activism. They organize projects and campaigns like Day of Silence and Changing the Game. GLSEN also provides a GSA start-up guide, but only if your up for some heavy reading.
By the time I was done with my research, I was overflowing with ideas on how to turn our GSA into a force to be reckoned with. I spent hours with Chyna bouncing thoughts, making plans, talking to administrators, and hanging up flyers.
10 students came to our second meeting. Copies of the school climate survey we were planning were passed out along with the cinnamon rolls this time, and we talked about possible upcoming events. I had to leave early to make debate practice, but I found out later that the group had unanimously voted me Vice President.
So that's how things are starting out. Right now, our GSA is gearing up to celebrate Ally Week and LGBT History Month in October (wow, that's soon!). I'm definitely excited for the future of our group - we've got big things to accomplish and I've got big dreams. I'll keep you updated.
Bye for now loves! ;)