Get Ready for the Third Annual Iowa GSA Day!!
To help everyone prepare for the day we've provided some answers to Frequently Asked Questions!
FAQ: About Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day
What is Iowa GSA Day?
Now in its third year, the goals of Iowa GSA Day are to:
· Honor GSAs around that state that work to end violence, homophobia and transphobia in Iowa schools and colleges;
· Honor students, teachers and community members that have shown dedication for keeping all students safe, and insuring a quality education for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity; and,
· Raise awareness of the need for GSAs in schools and colleges and how they are a proven, effective tool in combating hostile and unsafe learning environments for all students.
When is Iowa GSA Day and where is it held?
Iowa GSA Day will be held on Wednesday, January 28, 2009. Iowa GSA Day events will happen on high school and college campuses throughout the state.
I don’t have a GSA. Can I/my school/college still participate?
Yes! Any student, school or college can participate—even if they don’t have a GSA. We do ask that all students, schools and colleges register on our website (see info below). If you don’t yet have a GSA, participating in Iowa GSA Day is a great way to inform your administration about the need for a GSA and the benefits they bring to all students! Please call 515-243-1110 for more info on individual ways to be involved!
What is a GSA and how many are there in Iowa?
A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is a student-run club, which provides a safe place for students to meet, support each other, and talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and work to end homophobia and transphobia. Many GSA's function as a support group and provide safety and confidentiality to students who are struggling with their identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ). The student group also serves as a voice for LGBTQ students and works to help the school become more inclusive and safe. Most GSAs in Iowa are made up of both straight identified students and LGBTQ students. Currently there are approximately 100 active GSAs in Iowa’s high schools and colleges.
Do GSAs really work to end homophobia and violence?
Yes. GSAs decrease absenteeism, name-calling, harassment and assault. According to the 2007 Iowa School Climate Survey, LGBT students in schools WITH GSAs:
· 25% are less likely to be verbally harassed because of their gender
· 23% of LGBT students are less likely to skip class
· 23% are less likely to be physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation
· 21% are more likely to report never having been sexually harassed at school
· 12% are less likely to be physically harassed because of their gender expression
· 12% are less likely to be physically assaulted because of their gender expression
· 10% are less likely to be verbally harassed because of their gender expression
· 10% are less likely to be physically harassed because of their sexual orientation
· 10% more likely to report never being cyber-bullied because of their gender8% more likely to report being rarely cyber-bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender expression
How do we participate in Iowa GSA Day?
To participate, register your GSA with Iowa Pride Network at http://www.iowapridenetwork.org/. (Registration Forms for the day will be on our website shortly!) Simply click the “Iowa GSA Day” button and fill out the form and describe what your GSA is planning to do and why your GSA is important to you. Once you do this, your GSA is automatically entered to win DVDs, Books and other materials! Each GSA across the state can design activities to fit their school or college based on our three main areas of focus:
BE VISIBLE: Make sure that people know your GSA exists and why. Make t-shirts. Make fliers and hand them out at lunch. Have a panel discussion or lead a staff training to discuss your GSA. Hold a GSA meeting where you bring your friends—just be visible and let people know why you love and appreciate your GSA and how they can be involved!
SHOW APPRECIATION: Do you have a fantastic GSA advisor? Do you have supportive teachers, administrators or community members?—Let them know by giving them a card or thank-you note. Show appreciation for your group by discussing your group’s history. Take the time to research your GSA’s history, or if you started it, write down your history and pass it on to new GSA leaders. Understanding and appreciating where you’ve been will help the group feel confident in creating change for the future!
GET ORGANIZED: Sit down with your GSA and plan for the future. What are your goals for the GSA? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to increase attendance, improve programming, or make your school safer? Do you know who next year’s leaders will be? Answering these questions will ensure that your group is getting organized. Make sure you plan to attend Iowa Pride Network events and join a regional coalition. Look around. Are there other schools in your area that should have a GSA? If so, network with those schools and colleges and serve as a mentor to them. Make sure to inform Iowa Pride Network about the new GSAs—so that way, next year’s Iowa GSA Day can have an even bigger impact!