(This post originally appeared HERE on the GLAAD blog.)
Today is national Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day, an annual time when LGBTQ students and allies across the country show their support for GSAs on school campuses.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) defines GSAs as "student clubs that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression." One of the first GSAs was formed in Concord, Massachusetts by Kevin Jennings—who went on to found GLSEN—during the 1988-89 academic year. Now thirty years later, GLSEN has over 4,000 affiliated GSAs listed in their registry.
A study in 2009 showed that a staggering 84.6% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed while in school because of their sexual orientation. An additional 40.1 % identified encounters with physical harassment and 18.8% with physical assault for the same reason. The study also showed that having a GSA on campus considerably improved the quality of life for LGBTQ students, including "hearing fewer homophobic remarks, less victimization because of sexual orientation and gender expression, less absenteeism because of safety concerns and a greater sense of belonging to the school community."
However, despite this research, many students have been denied the right to form GSAs, particularly on religious campuses.
GLAAD supports the work of GSAs across the country, and urges you join us today in celebrating groups that champion the value and dignity of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff on school campuses. A live Tweet Chat will begin today at 3 pm PST, and everyone who supports GSAs is encouraged to participate. More information can be found about this event on the GSA Day website.
You can also like their page on Facebook to show your support and stay connected.