Advice for starting a GSA?

Kang Lin's picture

Having been out at school for 4 years, I've gradually become more aware of how many closetted and isolated individuals there are within the student body. Each year seems to follow a pattern of 1 person coming out and getting shit for it, causing everyone else to shrink back into their shells and not contemplate it. In this time, I've had quite a few people come out personally to me on the understanding that I won't tell anyone. However, I have limitted experiences and can only support them so much, and there are obviously more people who don't have an openly gay friend to confide in.

As such, I think it's time to put something semi-formal in place to let us support each other, share experiences, etc. Trouble is, being in the UK, there's little knowledge of the idea of GSAs and it might seem over politicised, etc. Also, there's very little in the way of existing UK GSAs on which to model it, all of the related literature covers US laws, school traditions, etc, and seems to be thin on the details of what is actually done.

So yeah...I guess I'm asking anyone who's been involved in the setting up and running of a GSA (especially interested if it's UK based) to share their experience and give an idea of the ups and downs of keeping it going and perhaps give advice on various aspects.

Thanks in advance for any responses :-)

raining men's picture


Yeah now that I think of it I've never heard of a GSA in Britian. There's a few GLBTs in my school, well 5 who are out, plus another 2 I know of, but we're quite unconnected it would be good to create some sort of group for us.

"Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suf-fer-ing"

Kang Lin's picture

Putney High School (somewhere

Putney High School (somewhere in London) was apparently the first to have one, but I can't find much (if anything) about it.

the mouse that roared's picture

I'm not in the UK

But I joined my school's GSA this year. Mostly, it's hanging out--we check in at the beginning (name, how was week/random thing like what would be your superhero name or something), and then usually we work on something gay-activist related, like the monthly display we put out, or a bake sale, or Coming Out Week. It's laid back and mostly just time to hang out with other people. Food and snacks are great to have. At the first meeting, we brainstormed a list of rules for our GSA (like respect other people, closet space allowed, etc.) and then put them on a pretty poster which our advisor put on the door to her room. Her room also has a GSA corner, with a bookshelf that has gay-themed books, and these cool beanbag chairs and a rug. We also got "safe space" stickers that we can put on our notebooks or locker or whatever. It's a nice, laid back, gay-safe club, but because of the closet space rule, it's harder to talk openly about gay issues. Hoped that helped a bit.

Are you hanging on to something useless just because you think it's beautiful?
--William Zinsser

Kang Lin's picture

Thankies :-)

A couple more questions (open to anyone)...

* How do people find out about your GSA (i.e. Is it publicised/word of mouth)?
* Is there staff opposition?
* What's the age range?

Kang Lin's picture

Nervous now...

The posters are going up in the common room today and there's a notice on the 6th form screen. First meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Wish us luck :-)