What is National Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day?
Coordinated and sponsored nationally by Iowa Pride Network (IPN), National GSA Day will be held on February 6, 2013. GSA Day is a time to strengthen the bond between LGBT people and straight allies and in particular recognize and honor student organizations called Gay-Straight Alliances (also known as a GSA). These student led groups work to educate their peers to stop homophobia, transphobia and violence in schools and colleges throughout the country.
This national event serves as a “day of action” for these student groups who employ creative ways to: Be visible; Honor those who have shown dedication in ensuring all students feel safe and supported; and, Prepare for the future. Ultimately, National GSA Day lets lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied (LGBTA) students know that they aren’t alone and that their work in creating safe learning environments is important to our schools, our communities and our country.
The specific goals of National GSA Day are to:
- Honor GSAs across America that work to end violence, homophobia, transphobia, and hate in schools and colleges.
- Honor students, teachers and community members that have shown dedication for keeping all students safe, and insuring a quality education for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Raise awareness of the need for GSAs in schools and colleges and how they are a proven, effective tool in combating hostile and unsafe learning environments for all students.
- Encourage GSAs to think about their future and ensure they are sustained
- Help educate students on how to create a GSA, encourage GSAs to network with each other and connect supporters to organizations that work to support GSA organizing
- Increase the visibility of the important bond between LGBT people and their straight friends and family.
Who started National Gay Straight Alliance Day?
National GSA Day first began as a statewide Iowa Pride Network event in Iowa in 2006. Then Governor Tom Vilsack declared October 25, 2006, “Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance Day” in honor of the gay-straight alliances (GSAs) around the state that work to end violence and homophobia in Iowa schools and colleges.
For six years, Iowa Pride Network has put on “Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance Day” to celebrate student-led groups in high schools and colleges (there are now even some in middle schools) that are working to stop homophobia, transphobia, bullying and hate.
Over the years, more and more states have been asking us about how they, too, can host a day to celebrate these courageous groups. At Iowa Pride Network, we wanted to assist other states who wanted to do a similar event—so with this in mind, we launched National Gay-Straight Alliance Day!
When is National Gay-Straight Alliance Day?
The second National Gay-Straight Alliance Day will be held on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
Why is the event in February?
The event is designed to serve as a mid-year energizer. Most students are coming back from winter vacations. The winter months can sometimes be dreary. This is one way to keep students energized leading into second semester.
Where do National GSA Day events take place?
For the most part, GSA Day events will take place on middle school, high school and college campuses. However, showing your support and being visible about your commitment to an alliance of LGBT and straight allied people in word or deed is an event in itself and should be celebrated! For example, straight people telling their co-workers they support LGBT equality or LGBT people thanking their straight friends for supporting them over a cup of coffee—all are examples of how and when events can take place!
Why do we need National GSA Day?
Violence and discrimination against LGBT students is the rule, not the exception, in American schools. It is a national disgrace that students feel threatened in school simply because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. While Americans need to know that thousands of students each day go to school or college and endure LGBT violence and harassment, they must also know that GSAs are a tool in helping end violence and that these student groups save lives.
What is a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)?
A gay-straight alliance (GSA) can be defined as a youth-led, school- or community-based group that provides a safe, welcoming, and affirming physical and emotional space for LGBT students, as well as those who are perceived as LGBT, those who are questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, children from LGBT families, and heterosexual students who want to be allies of their LGBT peers.
The inclusion of straight youth in the group mission and sponsored activities of GSAs is an important distinguishing factor from early support groups for LGBT teens, and recognizes the need for a comprehensive approach to youth safety. This strategy assists LGBT youth in building a diverse network of support, teaches heterosexual youth how to be effective allies to their LGBT peers, and teaches all youth about the effects of discrimination and prejudice. GSA participation also seems to shield youth from the negative influence of verbal and physical violence, alienation, and other forms of oppression based in homophobia and heterosexism.
How many GSAs exist in the United States?
Today there are 3,000+ GSAs around the country, although the exact number is hard to determine, as not all GSAs register with state or national organizations such as GLSEN or the National Association of GSA Networks.
How can my GSA or I participate?
Follow this link to participate in National GSA Day: Sign Up Page
Why does my GSA or I have sign-up in order to participate?
Signing-up allows sponsors to measure how successful National GSA Day is and helps us plan for the future. You’ll also be asked to take part in a voluntary survey to provide us with feedback on how you think the day went. You and/or your GSAs opinions will help determine the direction of this national celebration!