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10 Tips for Starting a GSA

From school rules to food to ground rules, these simply steps can help make a GSA's launch successful.

1. Follow guidelines. Establish a GSA the same way you would establish any other club. Look in your Student Handbook for the rules at your school. This may include getting permission from an administrator, finding an adviser and/or writing a constitution.

2. Find a faculty adviser. Find a teacher or staff member who you think would be supportive or who already has proven to be an ally around sexual orientation issues. It could be a teacher, counselor, nurse or librarian.

3. Inform administration of your plans. Tell administrators what you're doing right away. It can be very helpful to have an administrator on your side. That person can work as a liaison on your behalf with teachers, parents, community members and the school board. If an administrator is resistant to the GSA, let him or her know that forming a GSA is protected under the Federal Equal Access Act.

4. Inform guidance counselors and social workers about the group. These individuals may know students who would be interested in joining.

5. Pick a meeting place. You may want to find a meeting place that offers some level of privacy or confidentiality. A high-profile meeting place may discourage reluctant participants.

6. Advertise. Figure out the best way to advertise at your school. It may be a combination of school bulletin announcements, fliers and word of mouth. If your fliers are defaced or torn down, don't be discouraged! Keep putting them back up. Posting fliers with words like "end homophobia" or "discuss sexual orientation" can help raise awareness and can make other students feel safer – even if they never attend a single meeting.

7. Get food. This one is kind of obvious. People are more inclined to come to meetings when you provide food.

8. Hold your meeting. You may want to start out with a discussion about why people think the group is important. You can also brainstorm things your club would like to do this year.

9. Establish ground rules. Many groups create ground rules to ensure that group discussions are safe, confidential and respectful. Many groups adopt a rule that no assumptions or labels are used about a group member's sexual orientation. This can help make straight allies feel comfortable about attending the club.

10. Plan for the future. Develop an action plan. Brainstorm activities. Set goals for what you want to work toward. Contact GLSEN or the GSA Network (for students in California) to connect with other GSAs in your state and to learn about ways to get involved.

These ideas were adapted from the GSA Network.