The goal of this project was to improve the quality of life of young people who might be marginalised due to their LGBT+ identity by creating a safe space for them, where they can discuss these sensitive subjects openly and thus reduce feelings of isolation, share their experience and positive coping strategies. This project aimed to increase young people's competencies in coping strategies, community building, building of gay-straight alliances in schools, dealing with anger and aggression, as well as an opportunity to share experience and awareness of organisations that provide LGBT+ friendly help to young people. This will prevent long-term effects of psychological trauma and increase the chance of social inclusion of individuals at risk of self-harming behavior, health problems, lowered school performance and/or dropping out of school prematurely.
The project consisted of an advance planning visit, in which group leaders from respective countries concluded the list of participants, agreed on a strategy to operationalise participants' long term needs and adjust the Youth Exchange programme to needs of individual participants' as stated in the participants' application forms.
The youth Exchange was focused on the prevention of negative consequences of discrimination and various forms of violence faced by young people who identify as LGBT+. The activity was designed to provide space for sharing as well as enhancing emotional and social skills, which will provide the background for each participant's further study if they will wish to do so as well as practical knowledge and skills to create a base for effective peer support.
The activities within youth Exchange accommodated awareness of support on an interpersonal, national and european level, self-empowering coping skills. The participants' acquired competences will help and speed up social and psychological intervening when themselves or young individuals within the LGBT+ community experience discrimination or are victims of violence, which in the long term might lead to lowering truancies, early school-leaving, suicidal and self-harming thoughts and behaviors, increase school performance and therefore increase employability and decrease social exclusion of LGBT+ people.
The project also aimed to motivate young people to get involved in projects on the EU level and international cooperation, increase the local level of LGBT+ activism and contribute to more open and inclusive Europe.
The Gay-Straight Alliance Resource Corner
What is a GSA?
GSA clubs, or GSAs for short, are student-run organizations that unite LGBT+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities. GSAs have evolved beyond their traditional role to serve as safe spaces for LGBT+ youth in secondary schools, and have emerged as vehicles for deep social change related to racial, gender, and educational justice.
There are 3 different types of GSAs—all of which can directly impact LGBT+ young people: Social, Support, and Activist.
Every GSA can create its own mission and goals to meet the needs of its members and their individual school climates.
Social GSAs — Students meet and connect with other trans and LGBT+ students on campus Support GSAs — Students work to create safe spaces and talk about the various issues they face in school or their broader communities, such as discrimination from teachers or school administrators Activist GSAs — Students take a leadership role to improve school climate through campaigns and events that raise awareness and change policies or practices in their schools.
How to set up a GSA at your school?
1.Follow Guidelines Establish a GSA the same way you would establish any other group or club. Look in your school's rules or ask the appropriate teacher. This may include getting permission from an administrator, finding an advisor, and/or writing a constitution. However, in some schools, you don't need anyones permission
2.Find an Advisor Find a supportive teacher or staff member who has proven to be an ally around sexual orientation and gender issues to advise your club. It could be a teacher, counselor, nurse, or librarian. Tip: Find co-advisors for extra support.
3.Inform Your Administration of Your Plans Tell administrators what you are doing right away. Having an administrator on your side can be very helpful when talking to teachers, parent groups or the community. If an administrator is resistant to the GSA, let them know that forming a GSA club is legally protected
4.Inform Guidance Counselors about the GSA Counselors and social workers may know students who would be interested in attending the group.
5.Pick a Meeting Place Pick a classroom or meeting spot that students can easily find and is located in a safe place, such as your advisor's classroom or a meeting room in the library. Post rainbow signs and other posters to help people find you.
6.Advertise (and Get Food!) Figure out the best way to advertise at your school. It may be a combination of school bulletin announcements, flyers, social networking sites, and word-of-mouth. Also get food and tell people there will be food: people always come to meetings when you provide food!
7. Hold Your First Meeting You may want to start out with a discussion about why people feel having this group is important. The facilitator can ask questions like: What do you hope to get out of being part of this club? What would you like to see the GSA do this year? How can this club make lasting change at our school? Be sure to start every meeting with a go-around of name, year, and gender pronouns.
8.Establish Ground Rules Ground rules help ensure that group discussions are safe, confidential, and respectful. Many groups have a ground rule that no assumptions or labels are used about a group member's sexual orientation or gender identity. This can help make members feel comfortable attending and being themselves in the space.
9.Plan for the Future Develop an action plan with assigned members responsible for action items. Brainstorm activities. Set goals for what you want to work towards, including events and campaigns