On February 6th SC Gay-Straight Alliance Network To Celebrate National GSA Day | Community Spirit
On February 6, LGBTQ & allied students, adults, and organizations across the country are celebrating National Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day. National GSA Day is a time to strengthen the bond between LGBT people and straight allies, and in particular recognize and honor student organizations called Gay-Straight Alliances. These student-led groups work to educate their peers to stop homophobia, transphobia, and bullying in schools and colleges throughout the country. The South Carolina Gay-Straight Alliance Network, a program of South Carolina Equality, is marking this national celebration by releasing a new logo, a Facebook Fan Page (www.facebook.com/scgsanetwork) and launching a fundraising campaign.
Recent studies have shown that the presence of an active GSA significantly reduces the incidence of bullying, harassment, use of homophobic language, and LGBTQ youth isolation and suicide in schools and colleges. Among the organizations joining the SC GSA Network in sponsoring National GSA Day are Campus Pride, the Make It Better Project, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the National GSA Network and South Carolina Equality. According to the National GSA Network, there are now over 5,000 GSAs across the country. Recently the SC GSA Network received a private grant for $5,000 which will be doubled to $10,000 but only if the group raises $5,000 more dollars before May 30th. National GSA Day marks the beginning of a fundraising campaign in South Carolina to raise the necessary $5,000 to meet this match.
South Carolina Equality Executive Director, Ryan Wilson explains, “As a former member of a GSA while a student at Clemson University, National GSA Day is a special day for me. GSA Day is an opportunity for students and supportive community members and organizations to take the initiative to let lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender; questioning and straight allied (LGBTQA) students know that they are not alone and that their work in creating safe learning environments is important to our schools, our communities and our country.”
Jen Bennett, a board member for SC Equality and chair of the SC GSA Network committee said, “The SC GSA Network works first and foremost to develop LGBTA students into the next generation of young leaders in our community. Empowering students to successfully run GSAs in their middle schools, high schools and colleges, gives them valuable leadership experience and helps teach them to demand the rights all people deserve in the place where they spend the majority of their time each week.” Bennett explained, “It is well documented that schools with GSAs foster learning and growth for all students by reducing bullying and providing a safe place for students who have traditionally been denied equal treatment."
Students currently part of a GSA at their school can utilize the SC GSA Network for mentorship in organizational management and fundraising, for networking with members of other GSAs throughout South Carolina, and for leadership development and resume building. Students at a high school, college, or university without a GSA can contact the SC GSA Network for assistance in communicating with school administration, to understand the rights which have been secured for GSAs by the Department of Education, and basic guidelines for creating and funding a student group. The SC GSA Network also serves as a training resource for education professionals, including community agencies, counselors, and school faculty & staff on the topic of LGBTQ youth competency.