A GSA is a school-based group run by students and supported by teachers that works to create safe, caring and inclusive spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirit, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) students and their allies in schools. Typically, GSAs are designed to provide a safe space for students to meet, socialize and support one another as they discuss their feelings and experiences related to sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
GSAs are a relatively new phenomenon in North American schools. The first known GSA started in 1989 in Concord, Massachusetts. You might be surprised to know that Alberta’s first GSA was established in 2000 at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in Red Deer. Yes, you read that correctly—Red Deer!
Over 4,000 GSAs exist in the United States. In Canada, Ontario and Manitoba both have legislation supporting a student’s right to start a GSA and name it as such in their school. In Alberta, Edmonton Public Schools has a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy, which supports students who want to start GSAs. As a result, there are over 20 GSAs in the Edmonton Public School District. The Alberta Teachers’ Association has a policy encouraging school boards to support GSAs in all schools where students request them.
In the words of that immortal Vulcan, Mr Spock, may your GSA “Live long and prosper!”