A survey conducted by the Surrey Teachers Association (2000) referred to Canadian schools as one of the last bastions of tolerated hatred toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, transsexual, two-spirited and queer (LGBTQ) individuals. This observation points to the need for Canadian schools to consider offering welcoming and safe places within the school for LGBTQ students to meet, socialize, and support one another. Wells (2006) describes gay-straight student alliances (GSA) as student-run and teacher supported school-based groups that come together in confidential spaces where no assumptions are made about participants’ gender or sexual identity. Meetings of the GSA are intended to be open to all students and teachers “who are interested in addressing homophobia, heterosexism and other forms of related discrimination and prejudice” (p.11).
Lee (2002) noted that students who participate in GSAs demonstrate improvement in academic, social, and psychological domains reinforcing the importance of counsellors taking initiative in establishing GSAs within their schools. Wells (2006) stated that there are four main types of GSAs. These include GSAs for counselling and support which is typically counsellor led and offers psychological services, GSAs that provide safe spaces and focus on providing individual support and socialization opportunities, GSAs to raise visibility and awareness with the intent of increasing student safety and bringing to light human rights issues, and GSAs intended to effect educational and social change.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA