Spotlight on Extracurriculars: GSA club

Spotlight on Extracurriculars: GSA club

Kaitlyn Kraus, Journalist


GSA, or Gay-Straight Alliance/Gender-Sexuality Alliance, is a term used to describe groups and clubs that unite LGBTQ+ students to create a safe environment for them by working to raise awareness to and fight against problems that are occurring in their schools and communities. They also push for justice for not only their fellow LGBTQ+ peers, but for all genders, for people of color, and even educational justice. Additionally, they provide a safe space for students who may not have one elsewhere, especially for closeted students. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, how can students in these GSA clubs still push for these justices?

Typically, GSAs would connect with other LGBTQ+ students on campus and take part in campaigns to raise awareness. Such as last year, when we had meetings during FLEX where we would plan and talk about events. We had movie nights, and we watched LGBTQ+ centric films such as the Stonewall Uprising, about the Stonewall riots, the “unofficial start” to the LGBTQ+ rights movement. We also had a game night where we came together to, well, play games. We were also planning to attend the Frederick Pride Homecoming, however due to COVID-19 pandemic, it got postponed. While we could have done a bit more for the community, these events helped bring us, as LGBTQ+ students, who are commonly victims to teasing and even bullying, together into a safe space, while also educating ourselves about the past of our LGBTQ+ forepeople. 

Now, there is the pandemic that halts us from being able to do these activities. This raises the question of what we can still do. We still want to do the two basic functions of the GSA club; providing a safe space for students and raising awareness for present issues. The former is especially important right now, as some students may not have a sense of support or safety at their homes. It is important that they know they are supported and safe. 

Isolation during the pandemic period is a very harmful issue for LGBTQ+ students during this time, as said by Hilary Mutch, who runs a GSA in Alberta. She explains, “As much as possible, it’s so important to think ‘what are the things that we’re doing to combat those feelings of isolation, lack of resources, lack of support that people might be feeling at home, especially if their home isn’t affirming or respectful of their identity?” For providing a safe place for students, we could do Google Meets, Zoom calls, group chats, and/or even a Discord server where we can host games, play music, watch movies or shows, etc. These could make do for our movie and game nights we would have. This could also even be safer for students who wish for their family to not know they are in such a club, such as closeted students and students with unsupportive parents.

Then we need to think about what we can do for the community, both the LGBTQ+ community and our school community. Since we can’t post messages or posters in places like Main Street at school or the other school hallways, we could put things in the morning announcements. Or, an idea that was suggested to me by a fellow member, is that we could even make a website that gets linked somewhere in the school website or the schoology counseling groups for each grade, where we can share many things. These include current events — journalism and/or English students could possibly include writing pieces to be put in said website — as well as GoFundMe or petitions for LGBTQ+ teens as well as other people affected by current world issues. An alternative to a website — which would likely be a Google Site — is making a Rainbow Alliance Club Instagram page where we share the same things. Or, we could do both, and link the website to the Instagram page. Both would be great ways to spread important information like what was said previously. We could also contact other school GSA clubs and other queer kids who may need the support. Additionally, we could possibly hand-make masks; I know a student who has made some nice ones. 

These are difficult times, but we don’t have to be alone. There is support out there, and some may find that in the Tuscarora Rainbow Alliance club.