|image by: Cia|
Article by: anon
Coming towards the end of my first year at sixth form, my instinct is to reminisce about the highlights of the past few months: I think one of my favourites has got to be the odd process that led to me leading the LGBTQ+ group at my high school. How exactly did this happen, I hear you ask? Before this year, I’d never turned up to a single session, but once I started, one of the other leaders turned to me and told me I she could see me leading the sessions soon… so I did. Here’s a (very, very) loose guide to setting up and running an LGBTQ+ club (or Gay Straight Alliance) at your school or college:
Why start one in the first place?
For some of us, coming out to yourself is a vital step towards coming out to other people: I’ve found that having a ‘safe space’ within school where I could explore my identity (e.g. by asking questions, discussing the LGBTQ+ community in the UK) genuinely helped me to feel more comfortable with myself, but in a way that didn’t necessarily threaten my own anonymity within the school body. By setting up a club at your school or college, you could create this sort of safe space where people can express their opinions and be themselves, even if it’s just for forty minutes every Wednesday lunchtime. You might find that your club can have an impact beyond the people who attend it: if you manage to get a member of staff onboard, it could be really useful in changing the queer climate of your school or college. Setting up an LGBTQ+ club doesn’t necessarily have to be all about self-discovery and debate, though! The one I run often serves as a social group for people across year groups to make friends and play Kahoot with one another.
This is likely to depend on how your school or college handles students setting up clubs or societies: it might be helpful to chat to a teacher you trust and ask if you can use their classroom for your club at a specified time. Pro tip: the classroom I run the LGBTQ+ club at my school in is quite out of the way of most of the others (i.e. there are few lockers in there) - if lots of people attending aren’t out to their friends or their year group, using a slightly secluded venue could help to create a sense of safety and confidentiality. Some online resources suggest that you draw up a constitution (e.g. ground rules, what your club seeks to achieve) before you begin. Leading a club like this is most fun when you’re doing it with a friend - make use of your group chats or put up posters to recruit people to lead it with you! Two or three leaders works best, I feel. You might find it useful to ask people to come up with suggestions for sessions before you pick them as leaders - more about this later…
- The relationship between religion and being queer
- TERFs/intersectionality in feminism
- Whether pink capitalism is ethical/if people think there are any upsides
- The relationship between mental illness and queer identity
- Queer identity within pop culture (e.g. is Ariana Grande queerbaiting?)
- ‘Flop’ accounts - e.g. ace erasure
- World AIDS Day (1 December)
- Trans Day of Remembrance (20 November) and Visibility (31 March)
- The Stonewall Riots
- Stonewall UK (they do in-school talks and workshops!)
- Watching and discussing YouTube videos (personal favourites include Kat Blaque and PhilosophyTube’s video on transphobia)
- Kahoot (esp enjoyable if specific to your school/college)
- Queer-themed Buzzfeed quizzes (more enjoyable than you’d think)
- Recommending/reviewing queer cinema/literature together
- Arranging a weekend or after school trip (maybe? E.g. to a queer exhibit...)
Before you start your LGBT club at school, it’s important to remember the possibility of pushback you might receive from members of staff or fellow students: please do remember to look after yourself by taking time out if necessary, asking the people around you for help if you need it and maintaining anonymity if it makes you feel safer - for example, you may wish to sign off mass emails with ‘us’ instead of ‘LGBT society’, or perhaps use posters to encourage people to attend without publicly outing yourself. Good luck!