Southwest PA Gay-Straight Alliance Initiative:

 Building Student Coalitions

 

GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey has found for the first time that victimization of LGBT students has begun to decline, however, anti-LGBT language and experiences of harassment and assault remain high.  There is still much to be done.  Bullying not only leads to poorer psychological well-being, but also absenteeism from school, lowered education aspirations and academic achievement.  The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

 

GSAs provide critical support and safe spaces to all students, but especially LGBT students.  In addition, having a visible GSA has been correlated to students overall: 

  • hearing fewer homophobic remarks

  • experiencing less victimization and harassment

  • faculty and administration are more likely to intervene when homophobic remarks are heard

  • LGBT students feeling safe and connected to their schools.  

 

Our SWPA GSA Initiative was developed to create opportunities for students to make these changes happen in their schools!

The SWPA GSA Initiative aims to help build student coalitions and networking opportunities for students to meet other youth in their area, work together and utilize GLSEN Pittsburgh resources.  The SWPA GSA Initiative identifies GSAs in the 11 county service area of GLSEN Pittsburgh.  We then implement a diverse range of programming that reaches out to youth in multiple facets: 

  • social events

  • community celebrations

  • volunteer opportunities

  • educational workshops

  • leadership building conferences

 

 These programs have included: attending concerts and performances, youth and advisor conferences, student workshops as well as meet & greets and celebrations such as an event called "Living Out Loud" taking place after GLSEN's Day of Silence every April and our annual Safe-Space Prom.  This initiative aims to foster the self-worth, safety and confidence of LGBT youth and their allies.

 Are you or your GSA interested in getting involved with the SWPA GSA Initiative?  Contact our SWPA GSA Coordinator at swpagsa@glsenpgh.org

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