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What is the GSA? Written by Isabella Burns

“What is GSA?” “What do you do in GSA?” and “Why do we need it?” are all great and valid questions! GSA stands for Gay-Straight-Alliance or Gender-Sexuality-Alliance. We plan a handful of events and create a safe space for LGBTQ+ students at Pleasanton Middle School. Lastly, there is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting that GSA clubs can improve students’ academic performance and overall well-being.

Believe it or not, GSA clubs across America are making huge impacts on LGBTQ+ student’s lives. According to the GSA Network, a growing body of research shows that GSA clubs improve students’ wellness and academic performance. GSA clubs are also protecting LGBTQ+ youth from bullying and harassment. According to GLSEN, schools with a GSA are less likely to report hearing homophobic slurs/remarks. This can lead to students feeling more welcomed and safe at school, leading to increased attendance. This can also be proved, as GSLEN reported that sexual minority youth in Massachusetts who attended a school with a GSA club were less likely to miss school because they were afraid to go. Lastly, GLSEN also reported that LGBT students with a GSA club felt a “greater sense of belonging” at their school. Thus, GSA clubs are making huge impacts on LGBTQ+ student’s lives.

On a more personal level, it is fantastic to be in a GSA. It has given me a community, and it has introduced me to amazing people. I look forward to attending the weekly meeting, and it always brightens my day. It has also boosted my confidence and taught me that it is all right to stand up for yourself and others! Without GSA, I would probably have half of my friends, and I would dislike myself. All in all, GSA has made my Middle School experience unforgettable so far.

Pleasanton Middle School is great at making LGBTQ+ students feel supported and welcome. However, we can do better. To move PMS into an inclusive future, a few things that we can do better in this time of remote-learning is: encouraging students to put their pronouns in their ZOOM name, encouraging students to use their preferred name, checking in on students, and making sure they are in a safe and comfortable environment at home. If we were on campus, there are many other things we as a school could do better to create a more comfortable environment for LGBTQ+ students. Because we are not on campus, I will not list everything we can do, but I will name a few, including encouraging students to use the restroom they identify with, handing out pronoun pins/stickers so students and teachers can use a student’s correct pronouns, and speaking out about discrimination. By doing these things, we can transform PMS into an even more inclusive and welcoming school.

Overall, GSA stands for Gay-Straight-Alliance or Gender-Sexuality-Alliance. In the GSA club, we plan important events and ensure that everyone here at PMS feels welcomed and supported. There is growing evidence that having a GSA club can positively impact students, and I have felt that impact firsthand. So, maybe you should consider joining Pleasanton Middle School’s GSA club.

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