Text by Lianda van der Schilden – All you need is 1 gay guy, 1 bisexual lad, and 1 lesbian and 1 straight pupil, et voila! You have got yourself a Gay Straight Alliance.

At Alkwin Kollege, the school I work at, there had been previous attempts to start a similar group, but at the time the concept of a Gay Straight Alliance was not as well known as it nowadays. In 2007 and 2008 a couple of pupils, who had started a support-group, published a ‘book’ in which they explained what their coming-out had been like. The book was a modest success, certainly worthwhile, but there was no follow-up. The year after most pupils had graduated and so the support-group met its end.

Last school year two very enthusiastic pupils wanted to start a new support-group, they wanted to start doing everything they could possibly do, but to the lack of manpower they could not really make a difference. This year, however, is an entirely different story. Although one of last year’s pupils has graduated, the one boy that was left managed to find another boy and a girl to join him and to put new life into the support-group, which now got known as ‘GSA – Gay Straight Alliance’. All of a sudden an infinite amount of ideas were produced. One of those ideas was put to practice on Valentine’s Day. Whilst the roses were distributed, some teachers and pupils (who had agreed upon receiving a gerbera in advance) were given a gerbera. It represented their support towards our GSA and its message. The GSA-members handed over the flower and told the rest of the pupils in class that the flower represented tolerance and acceptance, and that their teacher or classmate supports the thought that love is universal. Many staff-members expressed their enthusiasm and some were somewhat disappointed and upset that they hadn’t been asked to participate.

It’s been a couple of months since the Valentine-activity and in the meantime a straight pupil has joined our GSA. His best friend is bisexual (and a GSA-member) and he thinks it’s quite ridiculous that some people will not accept or treat his best friend the way they treat him or any other person. Furthermore we have launched our own website (www.alkwingsa.nl) on which we blog about our campaigns and on which the GSA-members have posted their coming-out stories. The most recent addition is the video clip we have recorded as our contribution to the ‘Sta op tegen homofobie’ (‘Revolt against homophobia’) (http://youtu.be/hgnU4Uq67Yo). This campaign epitomizes our group’s message; everybody should be accepted for who and what he/she is, straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender, and as long as pupils at our school are being maltreated, we shall stand up for their rights.

Since I am still studying, I have made this GSA the main subject of my thesis, something I am still very content with. I couldn’t imagine a better group, in any possible way, to work with, than this one.