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|Ga. Gay-Straight Alliance Summit provides tools for LGBT students|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|February 16, 2012 23:56|
The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Georgia Equality will host the 2012 Georgia Gay-Straight Alliance Summit at Georgia State University on Feb 25.
The summit, a day-long event, aims to connect students with the tools and support needed to create GSAs in their own schools. More than 100 students participated in the conference when it launched last year. This year, organizers expect more than 150 students, parents and educators.
Gay-straight alliances benefit all students, not just those that identify as LGBT, says Anneliese Singh of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition.
“Research shows that when you have a GSA, it’s not only LGBTQ students that feel safer, all students feel safer,” Singh says. “The summit is a place where we can link students with one another and with resources that they may not have access to.”
Unfortunately, GSA organizations often face difficulties, especially here in the Deep South.
“The hard thing is that in Georgia, there can be a lot of obstacles in setting up a GSA, whether it’s difficulty in finding support or fear of disclosing that you’re queer or trans,” Singh says.
Support from adults, whether parents, school faculty or staff, is crucial, she says.
“The responsibility needs to be on adults, whether they’re straight, queer or trans, to make sure that GSAs are held. Queer and trans youth need our support,” Singh notes.
Workshops for this year’s event include “Starting and Developing a GSA,” “Bullying and Safety” and “LGBTQ Pop Culture and Transgender Identities.” The Georgia Young Advocate Award will also be given to a “deserving youth who has demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQQA advocacy in his or her community.”
The keynote speaker for the conference is slated to be Ga. State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates). Drenner was Georgia’s first openly gay state legislator and is currently one of four openly LGBT members of the Georgia General Assembly.
Following the summit, there will be a dance at Phillip Rush Center that will give conference participants a chance to mingle and have fun in a safe and supportive environment, Singh says.
Top photo: Attendees at last year’s GSA Summit participated in workshops designed to empower them to be advocates at their schools. (by Dyana Bagby)
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