Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Iowa Celebrates GSA Day!

A Day to Honor and Celebrate Student Groups that Work to End
Violence and Harassment in Schools and Colleges

Des Moines, IA – January 26 – Today is “Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day”.  The day, organized by Iowa Pride Network, is meant to honor GSA groups, students and staff who work to end violence and homophobia in Iowa schools and colleges.

According to recent Iowa School Climate Surveys, nearly 38% of gay and lesbian students are physically harassed and 21% are physically assaulted in Iowa schools because of their sexual orientation.  However, students with a GSA in their school are 23% less likely to be assaulted.

“Having a GSA is a simple, cost-effective way to create safe schools,” stated Joshua Merritt, Iowa Pride Network Outreach Coordinator.  “That is why having a day that raises awareness of GSAs and the positive impact they have on schools and colleges is so important.”

Hundreds of students from dozens of secondary schools and colleges are expected to take part in activities to address the serious problems of anti-gay bullying and harassment, while advocating for solutions - like GSAs and implementation of Iowa’s Safe School and amended Civil Rights laws.

Sarah Mowitz, a senior at Roosevelt High School and Iowa Pride Network board member, is part of a GSA at her high school.  “The point of the GSA is to make students think twice before using anti-gay slurs or other forms of harassment.  There are students out there who get picked on for being gay or being perceived to be.  This day let’s them know that they aren’t alone and that they’re supported.”

The event, now in its fifth year, continues to gain momentum.  Four years ago Iowa had approximately 50 GSAs, today more than 100 exist.  Iowa is the only state in the nation with such a day.  “We’re proud of the impact our GSAs have made across the state and appreciate the efforts of students and staff who work tirelessly to create safe schools,” stated Mowitz. 


About Iowa Pride Network
Iowa Pride Network empowers students to fight homophobia and transphobia in high schools and colleges by supporting gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs and providing leadership opportunities and organizing projects centered on social justice. For more information call Iowa Pride Network at 515-471-8062 or visit:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Danielle Askini to Keynote GSA Conference

Danielle went to high school in Southern Maine where she worked tirelessly as a youth educator and activist to change school climate through GSAs. She is a former foster youth, who worked for a number of years with other foster youth to change state and federal policies affecting young people in the child welfare system. 

She is a successful graduate of a pilot program in Maine to waive in-sate tuition for youth-in-foster care, a law she helped pass. She obtained her MSW from the University of Southern Maine where she also went for her undergraduate education in social work and gender studies. Her work has focused on ending discrimination against LGBT young people, rights for youth-in-foster care, ending hate crimes, immigration rights, and HIV education. 

Before she became the Program Manager for the National Association of GSA Networks, Danielle worked in Seattle at Verbena Health providing culturally competent care to LGBTQ clients, and the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence in Portland, Maine. 

8th Annual GSA Conference set for 4-23-11

Mark your calendars and get ready to register for the 2011 Gay-Straight Alliance Conference! This year's theme: "WE CREATE EQUALITY"

On Saturday, April 23—Iowa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and straight allied (LGBTQQA) high school and college students will converge on Iowa State University to celebrate the diversity and culture of our communities; collaborate across the spectrum of our identities an...d experiences; and discuss challenges, issues and ideas facing our movement today.

We’re excited to announce our keynote speaker: LGBTQQA movement leader, Danielle Askini, National Program Manager for the National Association of GSA Networks who will kick-off the conference AND Leslie and the Lys will wrap it all up with a special concert, FREE for conference attendees!

FREE t-shirts will also be given to those that register early (only about 125 t-shirts will be made so register early!)

Registration information and applications for workshop proposals will be available soon—only on Iowa Pride Network’s main website at, so check often!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

5th Annual Iowa GSA Day set for 1-26-11

Taking place on high school and college campuses across Iowa!

What is Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day?
Now in its fifth 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.

• 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.

• Increase the visibility of the important bond between LGBT people and their straight friends and family.

For the most up-to-date information, and to register yourself or your GSA group, please visit Iowa Pride Network's website at:

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

When is Iowa GSA Day and where is it held?
Iowa GSA Day will be held on Wednesday, January 26, 2011. Iowa GSA Day events will happen on high school and college campuses throughout the state.

How Do We Participate In Iowa GSA Day?
To participate, register your GSA with Iowa Pride Network at , click the “Iowa GSA Day” logo and fill out the form and describe what your GSA is planning to do and why your GSA is important to you. Each GSA across the state can design activities to fit their school or college based on our three main areas of focus:

 -- 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!

 -- 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!

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?

Tell the world about all the great things your GSA is doing be creating a video—you can be as creative or simple as you want!!
 -- Create a short video
 -- Create a YouTube page and upload your video
 -- Send IPN the link to your video and we’ll post it on IPN’s website!
 -- Check out IPN’s website for more information on the video campaign