Today is National Gay-Straight Alliance Day, a day meant to recognize the work gay-straight alliances do in schools across the country to combat bullying, homophobia and transphobia.
Thousands of students now attend colleges and high schools which have gay-straight alliance groups. These groups have become more prominent in recent years, and many have formed in response to instances of bullying or LGBT youth suicide.
LGBT students who attend schools with a GSA are much less likely to suffer bullying or hate speech than LGBT students who do not, according to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Georgia Equality will host the 2012 Georgia Gay-Straight Alliance Summit at Georgia State University on Feb 25.
The summit, a day-long event, aims to connect students with the tools and support needed to create GSAs in their own schools. More than 100 students participated in the conference when it launched last year. This year, organizers expect more than 150 students, parents and educators.
Gay-straight alliances benefit all students, not just those that identify as LGBT, says Anneliese Singh of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition.
As a 14-year old “queer” freshman at Apalachee High School in rural Barrow County, Carly Baker faces some tough odds.
She has clashed with other students who bullied her and her gay best friend. And when she approached her principal about starting a gay-straight alliance, she was told such a group wouldn’t fly in this part of the Bible belt.
But Baker, while appearing diminutive, is quite fearless and unwavering. She has armed herself with resources she obtained at the first annual Gay-Straight Alliance Youth Summit held on Feb. 19 at the UGA campus in Gwinnett County and is now researching the best way to again bring up her plans to school administrators.