Gay-straight alliance

Gay-straight alliance

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Gay–straight alliances are student organizations, found primarily in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

s and universities
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, that are intended to provide a safe and supportive environment for lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

, gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

, bisexual
Bisexuality is sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical or romantic attraction to both males and females, especially with regard to men and women. It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with a heterosexual and a homosexual orientation, all a part of the...

, and transgender
Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles....

LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

) youth and their straight allies
Straight ally
Straight ally is a colloquial term that describes a heterosexual person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQ social movements, and challenges homophobia. A straight ally believes that LGBT people suffer discrimination and thus are socially disadvantaged...



The goal of most, if not all, gay–straight alliances is to make their school community safe and welcoming to all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. They participate in national campaigns to raise awareness, such as the Day of Silence
Day of Silence
The Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's annual day of action to protest the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and their supporters...

, National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day
National Coming Out Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender—coming out regarding one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity being akin to a cultural rite of passage for LGBT people...

, No Name Calling Week, or locally organized Campaigns . Many GSAs work with local chapters of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is an organization in the United States that seeks to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in K-12 schools. GLSEN is headquartered in New York City and the District of Columbia...

, commonly called GLSEN or a state based organization such as GSA Network. The registered number of GSAs to GLSEN is over 4000, as of 2008. In California alone over 762 GSAs are registered, representing more than 50% of California's High Schools. Over half the states in the USA have one or more statewide groups that work with GSAs. Many of these state based groups and local chapters of GLSEN participate in the National Association of GSA Networks. GSA Networks have been formed to help local area students to network and connect to local resources, provide training for youth leaders, and sponsor local GSA efforts.

Some GSAs change their name to place less emphasis on the word "gay," resulting in alternatives such as "Project Rainbow," "Pride Alliance," "Common Ground," "Coexist", "Spectrum," or even the "Straight-Gay Alliance." There are continued efforts to make GSAs and like programs accepting of a wide range of individuals. The common acronym "LGBT" can include many additional letters including "QQASIP": corresponding to queer, questioning, asexual or allied, straight, intersex and pansexual.

The first GSA was started in 1988, in Concord, Massachusetts
Concord, Massachusetts
Concord is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 17,668. Although a small town, Concord is noted for its leading roles in American history and literature.-History:...

 at Concord Academy
Concord Academy
Concord Academy is a coeducational, independent, college preparatory school for grades nine through twelve, located in Concord, Massachusetts...

 by Kevin Jennings
Kevin Jennings
Kevin Brett Jennings is an American educator, author, and administrator. He was the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-11...

, the creator and head of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network GLSEN. The first public school gay–straight alliance was started at Newton South High School (Newton Centre, Massachusetts) by teacher Robert Parlin.


Some students face opposition from school administrations, elected school boards, or local communities in starting a school GSA. For example, some students at West Carteret High School
West Carteret High School
West Carteret High School is a public secondary school located in Morehead City, North Carolina on Country Club Road, and is part of the Carteret County Public School System. The school serves the student populations of Morehead City, Newport, Atlantic Beach, and surrounding areas. It opened in...

 in Morehead City, North Carolina
Morehead City, North Carolina
Morehead City is a port city in Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 8,661 at the 2010 census. Morehead City celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding on May 5, 2007...

 tried to start a GSA but the Carteret County Board of Education turned it down. In 1999, the Orange Unified School District
Orange Unified School District
Orange Unified School District is a public school district headquartered in Orange, California.Orange USD serves the cities of Orange and Villa Park, the unincorporated land of Silverado, and parts of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and an unpopulated area of Yorba Linda...

 in Orange County, California
Orange County, California
Orange County is a county in the U.S. state of California. Its county seat is Santa Ana. As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,010,232, up from 2,846,293 at the 2000 census, making it the third most populous county in California, behind Los Angeles County and San Diego County...

 voted unanimously to prohibit the formation of a GSA at El Modena High School
El Modena High School
El Modena High School, also known as called El Mo , is a traditional 4 year public high school located in the El Modena neighborhood in the eastern portion of the city of Orange in Orange County, California....

. The students sued the school board, claiming that their rights under the First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 and the 1984 Equal Access Act
Equal Access Act
The Equal Access Act is a United States federal law passed in 1984 to compel federally-funded secondary schools to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs...

 had been violated. In the first-ever ruling of its kind, Judge David O. Carter
David O. Carter
David O. Carter is a United States District Court Judge for the Central District of California.-Biography:...

 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
United States District Court for the Central District of California
The United States District Court for the Central District of California serves over 18 million people in southern and central California, making it the largest federal judicial district by population...

 issued a preliminary injunction ordering the school to allow the GSA to meet.

United Kingdom

Worldwide Gay Straight Alliances aren't as popular as they are in the United States but are beginning to take-off slowly. In the UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 there has always been more of an emphasis on stand alone Lesbian and Gay Youth 'Groups' that take place outside of the school setting, often funded by the local health authority or education service. The first GSA in the UK was founded by CN Lester at Putney
Putney is a district in south-west London, England, located in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is situated south-west of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London....

 High School for Girls. The Gay–Straight Alliance at Putney High School was not forced to close down at the school itself, but it was forced to remove its website and any links to other gay youth groups, and to restrict its access to students over the age of sixteen. However, another Gay–Straight Alliance was established at President Kennedy School and Community College
President Kennedy School and Community College
President Kennedy School and Community College is a secondary school located in Coventry, England. President Kennedy was made a specialist Humanities College school by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust in 2005. This brought significant financial investment and set tough targets for the...

, Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

, called There Are No Outsiders and this has been supported by the Headteacher and other members of staff.

Despite this setback CN's efforts were combined with those of gay rights activist David Henry in Manchester and together they formed the Queer Youth Alliance in 1999. The Queer Youth Alliance is now supporting the formation of GSA and related LGBT youth groups all over the UK.


The first GSA in Mexico was begun by a group of students in 2004 at the American School Foundation, a private American school in Mexico City. The GSA was initially opposed by several school board members and a small group of religious conservative parents. But the students fought back and eventually won their right to form the student club. The GSA's co-advisor, Ian K. Macgillivray, wrote several articles detailing his students' experiences, as well as the book, Gay-Straight Alliances: A Handbook for Students, Educators, and Parents (2007, Harrington Park Press).


Beyond a school group the Toronto District School Board has been committed to an unwritten alliance with their students, funding the Triangle Program
Triangle Program
The Triangle Program is an alternative education program in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, designed for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students who are at risk of dropping out or committing suicide because of homophobic and transphobic harassment in regular schools...

 at OASIS Alternative School, designed for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students who are at risk of dropping out or committing suicide because of harassment in regular schools.

In Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

, Carlton Comprehensive High School houses one of the first GSA movements in the city of Prince Albert
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert is the third-largest city in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is situated in the centre of the province on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The city is known as the "Gateway to the North" because it is the last major centre along the route to the resources of northern Saskatchewan...

. The first GSA in the city of Saskatoon
Saskatoon is a city in central Saskatchewan, Canada, on the South Saskatchewan River. Residents of the city of Saskatoon are called Saskatonians. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Corman Park No. 344....

 first met on March 18, 2003 at Mount Royal Collegiate
Mount Royal Collegiate
Mount Royal Collegiate Institute is located on the west side of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in Mount Royal. It serves students from grades 9 through 12...

. Since then, GSAs have been established at Nutana, Walter Murray, Evan Hardy
Evan Hardy Collegiate
Evan Hardy Collegiate Institute is located on the East side of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, serving students from grades 9 through 12. It is also known as Evan Hardy, Hardy, or simply EHCI....

, Marion Graham
Marion M. Graham Collegiate
Marion M Graham Collegiate is the only public high school in the north end of Saskatoon, serving the Silverwood Heights, Lawson Heights, River Heights, Richmond Heights, and North Park neighbourhoods....

, Bedford Road
Bedford Road Collegiate
Bedford Road Collegiate is a high school on the west side of the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is Saskatoon's second oldest high school educating students since February 12, 1923. It is also known as BRCI , or Bedford...

 and Aden Bowman
Aden Bowman Collegiate
Aden Bowman Collegiate Institute is located in the Queen Elizabeth subdivision, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, serving students from grades 9 through 12. It is also known as Aden Bowman, Bowman, or ABCI. The school was opened on September 2, 1958.- Fine arts :...

 Collegiates. Humboldt Collegiate Institute in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, a school run by both the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School Division and the (public) Horizon School Division, has also acquired a GSA.
The city of North Battleford had their first GSA in 2004 at Sakewew high school,a First Nation high school.

In Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Arnprior District High school, a small rural Ottawa Valley
Ottawa Valley
The Ottawa Valley is the valley along the boundary between Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec along the Ottawa River. The valley is the transition between the Saint Lawrence Lowlands and the Canadian Shield...

 town started a GSA created by the students in 2009. This GSA won one of three Jer's Vision
Jer's Vision
Jer's Vision: Canada's Youth Diversity Initiative is a youth-oriented registered charity devoted to promoting diversity and fighting discrimination in Canada.-Overview:...

 "Youth Role Model of The Year" award in April 2009. The next year a GSA was founded by students in 2010 at Renfrew Collegiate Institute in the town of Renfrew
Renfrew, Ontario
Renfrew, Ontario, Canada, is a town on the Bonnechere River in Renfrew County. Located one hour west of Ottawa in Eastern Ontario, Renfrew is the third largest town in the county after Petawawa and Pembroke. The town is a small transportation hub connecting Ontario Highway 60 and Highway 132 with...


In May 2010 Egale Canada
Egale Canada
Egale Canada is an advocacy organization founded in 1986 to advance equality for Canadian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, across Canada....

 launched, a website focused on GSAs and their role in making Canadian schools safer and more LGBTQ inclusive. As part of's mission the site maintains an online directory of Canadian GSAs and provided resources and information to students who wish to start a GSA in their school and for teachers who wish to support them.


The first GSAs were started in the Netherlands in 2009. At the beginning of 2011, a nationwide campaign was started on television to promote GSAs on Dutch schools, featuring several well-known young actors and singers. A number of GSAs already exist on a wide variety of Dutch schools throughout the country, most of them at the university level.

New Zealand

In 2011, Nelson College
Nelson College
Nelson College is a boys-only state secondary school in Nelson, New Zealand. It teaches from years 9 to 13. In addition, it runs a private Preparatory School for year 7 and 8 boys...

 became the first all-boys college in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 to form a GSA (Gay and straight alliance) support group.

See also

  • Queer Youth Network (UK)
  • National Union of Students LGBT Campaign (UK)
  • Campus Pride
    Campus Pride
    Campus Pride is an American national nonprofit 501 organization founded by M. Chad Wilson, Sarah E. Holmes and Shane L. Windmeyer in 2001 which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and Ally student leaders and/or Campus Organization in the areas of leadership development, support programs...

    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

  • Lambda 10 Project
    Lambda 10 Project
    The Lambda 10 Project is a national clearinghouse of information pertaining to LGBT issues in American fraternities and sororities. The organization works to heighten the visibility of out members , and offers educational resources related to sexual orientation and the fraternity/sorority...

    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

  • Think Before You Speak
  • NOH8

External links