What does a GSA or safer space club actually do with their time? The answer to this depends on who’s in the group, and what kind of environment they’re working in. Sometimes GSAs serve the primary goal of existing as one safe place in the school that people can count on. Other GSAs are extremely active socially, organizing events for the school and maybe even the broader community. Of course there are also other kinds of groups involved in working at a broader level to make schools and school boards safer and more inclusive places for everyone. Included in this section you’ll find ideas which could work for your GSA.
Icebreakers are simple activities often used at the beginning of a meeting to help get people more comfortable with themselves and each other. Here’s a short list to give you some ideas.
Source: Kerry Ashworth
Students and faculty advisors stand in a circle. One person begins by saying “I’ve got a younger sister” or some other statement that is true for them. Everyone for whom this is also true steps into the center of the circle. Everyone who doesn’t have a younger sister stays on the outside. You can always choose not to step into the circle. The game often brings up personal and important issues that students may not want to discuss in a more formal setting. This also allows everyone to recognize their differences and similarities.
Trace a male and a female body type on butcher paper, then have a free-for-all where everyone writes as many gender stereotypes as they can think of on the bodies where they would apply (for example, “boys are good at math” would be placed on the head of the male body). From here, you can talk about how gender stereotypes and traits relate to perceptions about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, as well as how these stereotypes limit our possibilities, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These exercises can also be done using stereotypes of LGBT people, helping us recognize that everyone has different traits that don’t define our sexual orientation or gender.
Concentric Circles, Inner/Outer Circles
Source: Jason Fleetwood-Boldt
This exercise works well to open dialogue. It requires an even number of people, with a minimum of six or eight. It works best with 20 or more. Have people count off by twos (1, 2, 1, 2…). Tell the ones to make an inner circle and the twos to form the outer circle. The inner circle should face outward and the outer circle should face inward, so that each person has a partner in that circle. The facilitator instructs that they will ask a question and the outer circle is to talk for one minute as the inner circle listens. If it is a group whose members don’t know one another, you can have people introduce themselves to their partners before they begin answering the question asked. After the minute is up, the inner circle answers the same question. Then the outer circle moves clockwise two people over, so everyone has a new partner. A new question is asked of the outer, then inner, circles. When finished, participants should discuss their conversations as a large group.
Growing up, what were all of the names (positive, negative and neutral) that you heard related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people?
Growing up, what were some of the stereotypes you heard about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people? What were some of the things you heard about these groups that you have found to be inaccurate?
Sociometry of Oppressions
This activity is designed to help explore the multiple ways in which our identities are read and effect our social interactions with others, as well as the broader circumstances of our life. Participants are assigned an identity and asked to respond to a series of prompts by stepping forward or remaining in place. Participants are given opportunities to visualize the dynamic of oppression and privilege as they make their way at varying speeds across the “playing field” of their characters life.
- to introduce the concepts of privilege and oppression and that all individuals are affected by them
- to develop a better understanding of the complexity of individuals within our society;
- to increase awareness and understanding of the meanings of power and control;
- to gain a better understanding of how and why our culture maintains the status quo
- to develop empathy for others
This questionnaire is for self-avowed heterosexuals only. If you are not openly heterosexual, pass it on to a friend who is. Please try to answer the questions as candidly as possible. Your responses will be held in strict confidence and your anonymity full protected. This is a way for you the teacher or advocate running the GSA. This is is how you can learn about the members and how you can help them or even how you believe others could help.
- What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
- When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?
- Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?
- Could it be that your sexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
- If you’ve ever slept with a person of the same sex, how can you be sure you wouldn’t prefer that?
- To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendancies? How did they react?
- Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyle?
- Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep quiet?
- Would you want your children to be heterosexual, knowing the problems they’d face?
- A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual men. Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual male teachers, pediatrciains, priests, or scoutmasters?
- With all the societal support for marriage, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
- Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
- Considering the menace of overpopulation, now could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?
- Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don’t you fear s/he might be inclined to influence you in the direction of his/her own learnings?
Fun Things To Do
• Host “bring a friend day” at a GSA meeting
• Invite guest speakers or workshop facilitators to your meetings to talk about mental and sexual health and other issues you care about
• Take a field trip to get tested for HIV at a local clinic
• Take a self defense class as a club
• Visit a middle school GSA and offer support
• Discuss coming out to family and friends
• Discuss suicide prevention and pass out resources and hotline numbers
• Host an LGBTQ movie night. Check out our Youth In Motion series with Frameline — you can get free movies!
• Plan a BBQ, picnic, pizza night, or potluck or host an ice cream social during lunch or after school
• Go on a field trip to a museum, film screening, or event that includes LGBTQ issues
• Make GSA buttons, shirts, and patches
• Volunteer together at a local shelter, food pantry, or charity
• Host a board game night
• Plan a Pride Dance or go to a LGBTQ dance in your area
• Get together with other GSAs or student clubs on campus or at a local queer or queer-friendly café
• Have an outdoor games day at a local park
• Hold a drag show, vogue, or step show fundraiser
• Hold a GSA bowling night
• Pass out rainbow cupcakes at a recruitment fair
• Paint a mural together
• Start an LGBTQ book club
• Build a website or social media page for your GSA or even make a video about GSA and share on social media
• Host a poetry and performance night
• Attend a GSA Network event or local LGBTQ conference
• Play the Gender & Sexuality Match Game at a meeting
• Do the Privilege Walk and discuss what privilege and power means in your GSA
• Have members map out their Gender Bread Person either privately or in a group and discuss
• Hold an assembly on Harvey Milk Day, Day of Silence, or during LGBTQ History Month
• Plan or go to local rallies, student protests, or lobbying events
• Make a zine about LGBTQ issues at your school
• Pass out surveys at school about LGBTQ issues and use the results in your activism
• Go to a school board or city council meeting, share your stories, and advocate for policies that protect LGBTQ students
• Raise funds to buy textbooks for your school and get “Donated by GSA” stamped inside
• Pass out rainbow ribbons on National Coming Out Day
• Launch a campaign to reduce slurs, get gender neutral bathrooms, or LGBTQ-inclusive classes
• Post LGBTQ visibility posters on bulletin boards in your community
• Hold discussions about how the school system affects people of color and what your GSA can do about it.
• Do a teacher training on LGBTQ issues and stopping slurs with role plays, videos, and member stories
• Participate in AIDS Walk, Relay for Life, or other charity walks
• Do a brainstorm of the Vision and Values for your GSA and put them on your posters
• Do a teach-in about student rights on your campus quad