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Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network
GSA Network is a next-generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains youth leaders to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer schools and healthier communities. All of GSA Network's work with students focuses on leadership development and activism that prioritizes building alliances not only across sexual orientation and gender identity lines, but also across race, ethnicity, and class lines. Resources and trainings are designed to facilitate coalition building.
GSA Network provides a variety of training opportunities to help students learn skills to become strong, powerful GSA leaders. GSA Network believes in youth leadership and youth empowerment. Youth lead our workshops and trainings. Youth help run the programs through our Youth Councils and Statewide Advocacy Council. Youth also serve on our Board of Directors.
A GSA club is a student-run club in a high school or middle school that brings together LGBTQI+ and straight students to support each other, provide a safe place to socialize, and create a platform to fight for racial, gender, LGBTQ, and economic justice. GSA clubs are powerful tools that can transform schools – making them safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ youth, youth with LGBTQ parents, and straight allies. GSA Network helps GSA clubs become activist clubs that can educate teachers and students to improve the school climate. GSA Network teaches GSA clubs how to work with the school administration to implement school policies that prevent harassment and violence.
Harassment and discrimination in school have been widely documented as pervasive problems for LGBT and gender non-conforming youth across the U.S., with serious consequences on students’ health, mental health, and academic achievement.
School-based, youth-led GSA clubs have proven to be an effective tool for mobilizing support for LGBT youth in hostile school environments, and for working to change those environments so that they are supportive of LGBTQ+ youth. In fact, GSA clubs have been described as the most potent forces for institutional change in educational settings, and the presence of a GSA at a school has been directly correlated to a variety of positive effects on school climate and individuals’ youth development.
We know that as LGBTQ+ youth face pressure from peers, staff and school administration, they are more likely to enter juvenile justice. LGBTQ+ youth represent 8% of the general student population nationally, yet they represent at least 15% of the juvenile justice population.
Studies are also suggesting that LGB and gender non-conforming youth may represent an even larger percentage of the juvenile justice population because they do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity and become ‘invisible’ within the system.
Schools have increasingly implemented punitive disciplinary practices that are contributing to the criminalization of youth despite evidence that demonstrates that zero tolerance policies have not made schools safer, and schools with increased rates of suspension and expulsion have demonstrated to have less satisfactory school climates.
Nearly one-third of students who are bullied are subjected to harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and racial or ethnic identity.