At GIFT we help organize GSAs (“Gay Straight Alliance” clubs or “Genders and Sexualities Alliance” clubs).
A GSA is a student-led club, generally intended for High school or Middle school settings, that aims to make the school community a safer place for all students. The purpose is to provide support and advocacy and help make schools more inclusive.
Club members include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBT+) youth and their straight allies. Clubs are open to all members of the student body.
LGBT+ Students are At Risk Students
Research shows that the need for emotional and physical safety for LGBT+ students are higher and more complex than that of their straight and cisgender peers. (Cisgender: meaning their gender identity matches what is says on their birth certificate). LGBT+ youth experience frequent bullying and violence in a variety of contexts - and contemplate and attempt suicide at significantly higher rates.
Most concerning, we know that each episode of LGBT+ victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. Additionally, LGBT+ youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGBT+ peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
At GIFT, we know that GSAs can be a valuable tool to provide the care and support that is so vital to these students.
Positive impacts of faith-based school GSAs
GSAs help grow a welcoming, caring, respectful, safe and inclusive environment for all students. What’s most important, schools with GSAs provide a place to create a sense of belonging.
GSAs celebrate the uniqueness and importance of the diversity of divine creation and the necessary inclusiveness that goes along with it. They help students learn about different life experiences and promote love, equity and equality for all.
When students feel cherished and accepted for who they are, it can positively impact academic performance in school. Other positive impacts of faith-based school GSAs on students' lives can include:
higher self-esteem & confidence
greater school attachment & improved attendance
improved sense of belonging in the faith community
increased sense of empowerment & hope
improved home & school relationships
more comfortable being visible as LGBT+ or as allies
reduction of stress due to hiding one's identity
lower levels of depression
enhanced sense of pride & intrinsic value as a divine creation
a stronger sense of identity in Christ and love of God
We’re here to support you!
There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach for GSAs in schools, and truly, the movement to include GSAs as part of the faith-based educational system is one that has many additional aspects to consider. Every GSA is different and should be driven by the needs and goals of each student population and school community.
Unsure and need to have more dialogue about this? Interested in creating a GSA at your school, but don’t know where to start? Please allow us to support you in your efforts!
Contact GIFT here to schedule a meeting with our support staff.
You can also check out these additional resources…