Today is the third annual National Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day. How are you celebrating?
The day provides an opportunity for action and honor. "A time to strengthen the bond between LGBT people and straight allies," according to the GSA Day website, it celebrates "student led groups [that] work to educate their peers to stop homophobia, transphobia and violence in schools and colleges throughout the country." Simultaneously, GSA Day is meant to inspire students through education, creative events that raise awareness, and strengthened relationships between GSAs.
Middle schools, high schools, and colleges around the country will be showing support for the LGBT community on scales big and small. "Straight people tell their co-workers they support LGBT equality or LGBT people thanking their straight friends for supporting them over a cup of coffee [is an] example of how and when events can take place," reads the website.
At the core of its mission, GSA Day is about making schools safe for all students by ending physical and emotional violence against LGBT youth. Recognizing the role of straight allies is key to creating such an environment, says GSADay.org, because it builds a diverse network capable of taking "a comprehensive approach to youth safety."
According to the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), more than 85% of LGBT students have faced verbal harassment and almost 1 out of 5 have been physical assaulted at school. With close to 40% of LGBT students reporting that adults working at the school do not intervene when harmful, anti-LGBT language is used, it is often left to the students to lead the charge in creating a positive environment.
Iowa Pride Network (IPN) has found that a GSA's presence is a powerful game changer. They found that for students in schools with GSAs:
- 25% are less likely to be verbally harassed because of their gender
- 23% less likely to skip class and 15% are less likely to not attend school because of feeling uncomfortable or unsafe
- 23% less likely to be physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation
- 21% more likely to report never having been sexually harassed at school
- 12% less likely to be physically harassed or assaulted because of their gender expression
- 10% less likely to be verbally or physically harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression and 10% more likely to report never being cyber-bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender expression