How to start a group at school

— By 26 July 2011

Students across Australia have already set up gender and sexual diversity groups in their schools. These groups are sometimes called ‘Stand Out Groups’, ‘Gay-Straight Alliances’, ‘Queer-Straight Alliance’, ‘Diversity Groups’, or have their own unique name.

The idea of a group is to bring together students who are gender diverse, same sex attracted or intersex with their allies and supporters in order to challenge homophobia and transphobia and generally make schools more inclusive and supportive of gender and sexual diversity.

There is no one right way to organise a group, but the following steps might help you get started.

Give your group a stand out name
You could do this by having a mini competition or vote. You can also create logos or fact sheets about why you’ve created your group.

Find out the rules
Ask a teacher what the process is for setting up any kind of club or group in the school. Do this with a friend if you can so that you can both ask questions and make sure you’re getting all the info you need. You may need to go away and prepare before you take the next step.

Find some supportive teachers
It’s going to be much easier to do anything if you have a least one teacher on your side. They can help you work with other staff members, school leaders, community groups, and the school council or board.

Pick a place and time to meet
Think about what rooms are available that offer privacy but are also easy to find. Some groups meet during lunch time; others after school. Talk about what works best for others and be flexible if you need to.

Hold a meeting
It can feel like a big step, but go for it! Having some food and drink available can really help get people along. Ask a teacher if they can help provide refreshments for you. Once you get together, talk about whether you want to form an agreement about how you work together to make sure the meetings are safe and useful.

Don’t be discouraged if only a few people turn up! A small group of passionate people can create big change.

Create an online space
Set up a website, blog, or closed Facebook page for your group. Ask a supportive teacher whether you can put a link to the group on your school’s website.

Spread the word
Figure out the best way to advertise the group in your school. This could include announcements in assembly or classes, listing in the school bulletin/newsletter, posters, flyers, Facebook group or event, word of mouth, setting up a lunchtime stall, chalking on pavements, and more. Be creative!

Get more people involved
Make links with your school welfare or wellbeing team – they should be able to refer other students to the group. Encourage the whole school to participate in events like IDAHOT, Pride, Mardi Gras, or even an equal marriage rally.

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