Escape

Iowa GSA Network

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.

Join the Iowa GSA Network

What is a GSA?

Gay-Straight Alliances or Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) are student-run clubs or groups in schools that serve as a safe space for all students, regardless of their 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 orientation and gender identity/expression, and work to end homophobia and transphobia in their school.

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 GSA Network swag!

Join the Iowa GSA Network here!

What is the GSA Network and what does it offer students?

The 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.

The GSA Network is designed to allow students to create change through active involvement! Our ultimate goal of enriching LGBTQ youth lives through partnerships with student leaders and GSAs is accomplished through collaboration with GSA leaders, advisors, and community partners.

The GSA Network offers resources, support, and direct interactive services to GSA groups, students, and their advisors. The Network can provide your GSA with an e-toolkit of materials and ideas to help the group:

  1. Support students who have been victims of bullying and harassment
  2. Build a space where students can express themselves and live their truth
  3. Problem solve issues within their group, and set up the GSA for continued success
  4. Create positive change in their school

The GSA Network also 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.

Some of the events the Network hosts for students include:

  1. The GSA Conference: A fall kick-off event for students who are leading GSAs or are interested in starting a GSA at their school. This conference gives students as well as adult advisors the tools they need to jump-start their GSA for the year, and set the group up for a successful year of advocacy!
  2. Student Day at the Capitol: For over 16 years, Iowa Safe Schools has worked in the Iowa Legislature to pass important legislation supporting LGBTQ youth and fighting back against attacks to take away protections. Students from across Iowa will have a chance to meet legislators and advocate for issues that are important to them.

See our full repertoire of resources!

Resources

Founded by Zachary Bales-Henry, the ZBH Courageous Scholarship Award recognizes LGBTQ and Allied students across Iowa who work to create welcoming and inclusive spaces for others. To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must:

  • Must be a current high school, college bound senior, who has been accepted to an accredited college or university OR currently enrolled at an accredited university or college as a freshman, sophomore, or junior and under the age of 24.
  • Must be an out member of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community or a vocal ally.
  • Must have made significant contributions to the LGBTQ community.
  • Must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4-point scale (or equivalent).
  • Must be active with Iowa Safe Schools and a member of the Iowa GSA Network or Queer Campus Coalition.
  • Must be able to provide two letters of reference.
    • One from a school staff member (teacher, counselor, principal)
    • One from a community member who has worked with the student (work supervisor, church leader, etc.)

If awarded the ZBH Courageous Scholarship, recipients must agree to:

  • Attend the Iowa Safe Schools Spirit Awards gala in October 2019
  • Attend at least one additional Iowa Safe Schools event throughout the 2019-2020 school year
  • Continue to be involved with the LGBTQ community on their college campus

For more information on the scholarship and to apply, please download this 2018-2019 ZBH Scholarship.

The Iowa Safe Schools’ Student Leadership Council (SLC) is the cornerstone of the Iowa GSA Network. The members of the SLC represent Iowa high school LGBTQ and allied students ages 16-18  who are actively involved in their GSA, and are advocates for safe and inclusive schools. SLC members engage in projects they are passionate about and explore their strengths and goals for being a more impactful leader. Iowa Safe Schools is elevating tomorrow’s LGBTQ leaders, empowering students to create positive change in their communities.

For the 2019-2020 school year, they’ll be dedicating their time and passion to represent the many voices of GSAs across Iowa. The SLC will meet to discuss ways that GSAs and LGBTQ students can empower themselves to create safe and affirming schools for all students. They’ll help the Iowa GSA Network create youth-centered resources, programming and campaigns; motivate GSAs to reach their full potential; and represent Iowa Safe Schools in the media as well as conferences and events.

Some of the projects student leaders will work on this year:

  1. Citizenship Project
  2. Co-plan The Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth
  3. Develop resources for Pride Packs
  4. Participate in a leadership development program

Registration is Open!

Iowa Safe Schools is excited to continue and build upon the legacy of the GSA Conference through the Iowa GSA Network program!

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ community
  • Collaborate across the spectrum of identities and experiences
  • Empower each other to build on successful student organizations!

When: Saturday, September 28, 2019

Where: Lincoln High School, Des Moines, IA

How do I sign-up? Click here to register!

What else should I know? Breakfast items and lunch will be provided. This is a FREE conference, and students must register to attend! There will be opportunities to meet with Iowa Safe Schools and Iowa GSA Network staff, as well as network with local businesses and organizations.

Tentative Schedule*

8:30: Registration
9:00: Welcome & Opening Speakers
9:45: 10 Min. Break
9:55: Student Caucus
11:00: Lunch
12:25: Workshop 1: Engage
1:10: 10 min. break
1:20: Workshop 2: Impact
2:05: 10 min break
2:15: Workshop 3: Elevate
2:15: Closing Session
2:45: Departure

*This schedule is tentative and subject to change.