You know a GSA will make your school better. So how do you help start or support one?
Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that GSA students have.
We also encourage students contact our office with questions at any time.
How do I start a GSA?
To start a GSA, you will need to follow the standard process that your school or district has in place for creating an extracurricular club. The most important aspect of starting a GSA will be finding a sponsor–a teacher or couple of teachers who will help the club to get started and to run smoothly. If you can’t think of any supportive teachers off the top of your head, ask your friends who they might think would be supportive of LGBTQ students enough to agree to sponsor a GSA or Pride Club.
It’s important to be upfront with teachers about the time commitment that serving as a sponsor might entail. You can make sure to emphasize the importance that a GSA makes in the lives of a student body. Schools with GSAs see decreases in bullying and decreases in suicide rates. If a teacher has any questions, make sure to send them to our Educator Resources page and let them know that they can contact us at any time.
How do I get more members in my GSA?
Achieving and sustaining membership in a club is tricky, and GSA is no exception. When thinking about the question of membership, consider asking the following questions:
- Is the current membership of the GSA racially representative of the student body? In other words, are there as many black, Latinx, and students of Asian and Pacific Islander descent as there are in a typical classroom? If not, this worksheet provides some great insight into creating a space that is inclusive of people of all ethnicities.
- When does your GSA meet? Do other clubs meet at that time? If so, consider having a conversation with your sponsor and other members about meeting at a time that works for more people. Keep in mind that meeting after school might produce difficulties for closeted students who don’t with to disclose to their parents why they wish to remain at school after hours.
- Do your current club members all know each other? That may be because of the bonds you’ve developed through GSA activities, or it may be because your GSA has inadvertently become a clique. To make sure your club is welcoming to all students, consider inviting people who have never gone before, or asking friends who never go what their perception of GSA is. Don’t guilt-trip them into going, or get defensive if they are critical. Remember that learning other people’s perspectives of your club can make for useful feedback that can improve your club.
- Did something happen in the personal lives of one of more of your club members? Maybe there was a break-up or a falling out. These can be difficult to navigate, but just remember that your club is meant to serve the entire student body, and is resilient enough to survive such lapses in membership.
What does a GSA do? What should it do?
Every student body is unique, so the needs and priorities of each GSA will look different. When considering what your GSA should do, first consider the needs of its members. Are they looking to support one another through difficult, emotional times? Do they want to plan social activities, such as dances, the Night of Noise, and LGBTQ friendly proms? Are they passionate about activism, and want to participate in marches or rallies? The GSA Network National has a great resource on different GSA models. Consider talking as a group about each model, and which model each member needs at the current time. No GSA will be 100% social, support, or activist based 100% of the time, but it’s important to be attentive to one another’s needs as you plan what your GSA will do.
How do I successfully lead my GSA?
Leadership requires putting the needs of your membership above the desires of any one person, including yourself. Successful GSAs are co-led by many voices, including engaged teacher sponsors, and sometimes have multiple students facilitating each meeting.
Consider what leadership style might work for your club:
- Rotating Leadership: In this leadership style, people are not elected to different roles, but decide to temporarily take on tasks for each meeting. It is helpful to decide at the end of every meeting who will serve in the two necessary positions for next meeting–the Facilitator, and the Notetaker. The Facilitator keeps members on task during the meeting and makes sure every item on the agenda is talked about and decided upon. The Notetaker records every decision made so that everyone can know what happened during the meeting–even members who weren’t able to make it. Everyone else in the meeting participates in the discussion, and makes sure to volunteer for tasks.
- Traditional Roles: President/Vice President/Treasurer/Secretary. In this traditional leadership set-up, a small group of people serve in specific roles that help the entire club run smoothly. A President typically leads meetings, and is oftentimes assisted by a Vice-President, who will step in in a President’s absence. The treasurer handles financial aspects of a club, sometimes including fundraising efforts, and a secretary ensures that proper recordings of each major decision is kept.
- Something Else: Make sure that your leadership style works for you. You may find that your leadership needs shift over time, and that’s OK! Just make sure to have discussions with your sponsor and fellow members about how to most effective coordinate your GSA!