The Iowa GSA Network is a new program of Iowa Safe Schools, with the mission of empowering students to create safe spaces in Iowa schools through youth activism and community support. It is designed to provide resources and support to LGBTQ and allied students in Iowa, as well as educators and GSA advisers. The Network connects GSAs across the state, and assist students interested in starting a GSA get their group off the ground.
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are student-run clubs or groups in schools that serve as a safe space for all students, regardless of sexual/romantic orientation or gender identity/expression. GSAs provide a place for students to meet, support and listen to each other about their experiences, talk about issues related to sexual/romantic orientation and gender identity/expression, and work to end homophobia and transphobia in their school.
GSAs can take on many forms in order to be most relevant to each individual and school, but at the core of every group is a desire to support fellow students who have been bullied or harassed because of their sexual and romantic identity, gender identity, or how they express those unique identities.
Does all this sound like something you want to be a part of? Find out how to start a GSA at your school, and how to join the Iowa GSA Network! We invite you to be a part of the family!
If you have a GSA, we want you to be a part of the GSA Network! Joining the Network will provide you with the opportunity to interact with other GSAs around the state, access a wide range of resources for LGBTQ students, and be the first to get your hands on exclusive Iowa GSA Network swag!
The Iowa GSA Network is a program of Iowa Safe Schools, with the mission of empowering students to create safe spaces in Iowa schools through youth activism and community support. It is designed to provide resources and support to LGBTQ and allied students in Iowa, as well as educators and GSA advisors. The Network connects GSAs across the state, and assist students interested in starting a GSA get their group off the ground.
Part of what makes the Iowa GSA Network different from other networks is that staff want students to be an integral part of the planning and decision making process. The Network is designed to allow students to create change through active involvement! Staff encourages student voices in the Iowa GSA Network, because it is the students that are most aware of the current issues being faced in schools today. Our ultimate goal of enriching lives through partnerships with student leaders and GSAs is accomplished through collaboration with GSA leaders, advisors, and community partners.
The Iowa GSA Network’s Student Leadership Council is a cornerstone of the Network, and represents the many voices of the GSAs across Iowa. The Council meets to discuss how groups across the state are doing, and how the Network can be a supportive resource to students and advisors.
The Iowa GSA Network offers resources, support, and direct interactive services to GSA groups and their advisors, as well as individual LGBTQ and allied students. The Network can provide your GSA with a toolkit of materials and ideas to help the group:
This toolkit is provided free of charge when a GSA joins the Iowa GSA Network! The Iowa GSA Network is committed to serving students who have experienced bullying and harassment, and the resources provided are often seen as lifelines to GSA groups, both experienced and just getting started.
The Iowa GSA Network helps groups connect with each other! We believe that students should collaborate with and support each other, and we help provide spaces for GSAs to do just that. From helping groups organize their own events, to being a representative on the Student Leadership Council, to offering scholarships for students to attend the annual Governor’s Conference, promoting student leadership is part of what drives the Iowa GSA Network. Get plugged in to the Network here.
In addition to GSA group support, the Iowa GSA Network provides intervention and safety planning services to individual students who come forward to say they have been victims of bullying or harassment in their schools. Our LGBTQ Advocate, Joshua Merritt, meets with students to provide direct service in reporting incidents of bullying, as well as ensuring schools are responding to incidents of bullying and that mental health needs are addressed immediately when an incident happens.