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At GLSEN 2008 homosexual youth conference in Boston:      BACK to main page

The next step: Setting up gay “GSA” clubs in middle schools

Gay sex: “...not our main agenda, but we’ve got to keep it in the agenda”

Posted: April 9, 2008

The new frontier for homosexual gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs is the middle schools, say the gay activists.  These clubs bring in kids, but also serve as the beachhead for other homosexual programs in a school. The GLSEN conference included two workshops and three handouts (below) on the how-to of getting them into the schools. They seem very serious about this.

These handouts were distributed at the workshops listed below:

10 ideas for Middle School GSAs
“There’s a ton of stuff you can do to have a lot of fun with a Gay-Straight Alliance in Middle School. Just make sure it’s always fun and interactive, and always, ALWAYS have food.”  The ten ideas cleverly mix “fun” with organizing and mixing in homosexual books, activities, and interactions with homosexual organizations. It ends with a promoting a school-wide “campaign for policy change” to push pro-homosexual policies in the school!

Responses from advisors about middle school GSAs
You’d get upset just reading this. It’s a page of quotes from homosexual activist staff members who had organized GSAs in their middle schools, and their experiences.

Sample Proposal for a Middle School GSA
This lays out how to make an air-tight case to the middle school officials why a homosexual GSA club is needed, anticipating concerns, etc., giving the right language to use to persuade them to allow it in the school.

Training workshops

GLSEN presented two workshops specifically for this purpose. We attended one of them. Here's how they were listed in the conference guide:

GSAs in Middle School?!?
Lane Levine, Student Organizing Associate, GLSEN National

Middle schools are the next big thing for student-led safer schools organizing! In this workshop, we will talkabout what it takes to start a GSA in a middle school, why it's different from GSA's in high schools, what people's concerns are, and how it can be awesome!
[Note that GLSEN's national organizer leads workshop, stressing "student-led safer schools" strategy.]

Empowering Middle School LGBTQ Students
Park School Middle School Students
Katharine Callard, Faculty Advisor, GSA
Alan Rivera, Faculty Advisor, GSA

Park School students will talk about the benefits and challenges of organizing and running their GSA at the middle school level. While high school GSAs are increasingly common, the concept of the middle school GSA is just now caching on. We're proud of our middle school GSA (now in its 4th year), believe in the importance of addressing LGBTQ issues with middle school students, and would like to share our experiences with others.
[The Park School is a very liberal private school in Brookline.]

Workshop teaches selling the idea to middle school officials

The GSA’s in Middle School workshop started out with people introducing themselves. One person was a 52-year-old school guidance councilor and psychologist who has a 31-year-old lesbian daughter. Another was a teacher from Cambridge. A third was a guidance councilor from Leominster.

The workshop presenter, a professional GLSEN homosexual organizer, talked about their experiences of setting up GSA’s in middle schools in other states. They talked about the problems one faces and how to solve them. They discussed the language one uses to persuade school officials. “You have to be very careful, very polite, very nice” they were told.

The presenter said, there are no middle school GSAs in Massachusetts public schools. There are some in private schools, and some in other states. The big problem is successfully pitching the idea to middle school officials, and the presenter spent time discussing that and gave out a handout.

Stresses “gay identity” rather than gay sex -- right now

When the subject of homosexual sex came up, the advice was, “Don’t leave sex out . . It’s not our main agenda, but we’ve got to keep it in the agenda.” It needs to be done subtly. What should the focus be? Three overlapping circles were drawn on the whiteboard with the words: Social, Advocacy, and Support. This is how it was to appear on the surface.

When working with middle school kids, it’s not “sex” focused but “identity” focused, they were told. (Thus, it’s a kid’s identity they want to change – to a gay identity.)  From the 5th through the 8th grade, they use very careful language and work in issues such as ant-bullying, etc. They leave the gay sex issues for the gay-friendly school councilors to deal with kids one-on-one, they said.

What about parents?

The homosexual newspaper Bay Windows also reported on the push into middle schools, describing it as “charting new territory.”  In particular, Bay Windows noted the problem of keeping parents out of the way has to be dealt with:

“Levine [the presenter] said that GLSEN, like many activists working to adapt the concept of the GSA for younger grade levels, is still working out the answers to some fundamental questions. One of the thornier issues discussed during the workshop was balancing confidentiality for student participants with the interest of parents in knowing what is happening with their kids. One student from a middle school GSA in Newton said she felt it was crucial to give kids a space to talk about LGBT issues in private, but other participants felt that asking school officials to allow students to take part in a GSA without notifying their parents might be a hard sell.”

But as we’ve seen, the modus operendi for GSAs is total secrecy, especially regarding parents.

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