Georgia GSA Youth Summit Feb 24th 2018

September 1st, 2016

2018 Georgia GSA/LGBTQ+ Youth Summit

Georgia Safe Schools Coalition
Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 6:15 PM (EST)
Decatur, GA

Click here for tickets


A Project of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (GSSC) and its partner organizations (e.g., Lambda Legal, Georgia Equality, Agnes Scott College)


The 2018 Georgia GSA/LGBTQ+ Youth Summit is a time to meet youth from around the state to be encouraged, inspired, and motivated for action. It will run from 9:00-6:15, and will offer education, entertainment, breakout sessions, advocacy, and new friendships.
There will be a social/talent show.

PEVIOUS Year’s Programs:

(A SAMPLE of what might be offered this year- Specific sessions have not yet been determined)

Artful Activism for the Queer-minded
Explore social justice and declare your views as we talk about intersections of oppression and create visual art. Participants will be invited to display their artful activism at the GSA Summit Talent Show.

Ask Questions of Affirming Parents

For youth only! A panel of affirming parents will answer questions that are hard for you to ask your own parents. The panel will be introduced & then the floor will be open for questions.

Healing Space for Queer and Trans* Youth of Color

Join a safer space for queer and trans* youth of color to address mental health & emotional wellness, as well as examine shame as a second layer of pain. An art session will build healing & self-expression.

Let’s Talk Sex! Communication, Boundaries, and Consent

Navigating sex is complicated. Come learn how to communicate, set boundaries, and center enthusiastic consent in ways that empower and respect our bodies and sexualities.

Unpacking the Mainstream Conversation: Sexuality and Religion

Many images and thoughts come to mind when we think about religion and sexuality. Join a discussion about those ideas, how our assumptions are shaped, what resources may helpful, reflect on our experiences, and develop an action plan to ally religion and LGBTQ communities.

Starting a GSA with GLSEN Atlanta

There are lots of challenges for starting a GSA, especially in the South. Let’s talk about those challenges and resources that can help. We will also work with you on issues you’re facing on your campus.

Maintaining your GSA with GLSEN Atlanta

So you started a GSA. Now what? Let’s discuss maintaining your GSA, attracting new members, engaging activities, fundraising ideas, and a new GLSEN Atlanta GSA Curriculum developed by student leaders.

Unwriting Gender: Building a Revolution

While mainstream visibility of trans and gender non-conforming folks is steadily increasing, it has yet to acknowledge or make space for the ever-expanding ways in which people “show up” in their gender. This workshop will cover concepts surrounding the social construction of sex and gender, pop culture, and the million plus ways queer & trans folks challenge and explode the gender binary.

Push Back Against the School to Prison Pipeline!

Talk with a local organizer from Gwinnett SToPP and learn how to push back against the school to prison pipeline, a system funneling students toward incarceration instead of graduation. Share your story & advocate!

Writing Yourself Into the World: Storytelling for Social Justice

Elizabeth Anderson of Charis Books & Charis Circle, the nation’s oldest feminist bookstore, will guide participants writing about the important stories in their lives as LGBTQIA people and how to best express those stories to create change. Open to all experience levels.

Understanding your Body as a Site of Liberation

The human body is a miracle of nature, but what happens when we impose the gender binary system on this complexity and what are implications for folks who are intersex? Come share, write, create & hold space for us to collectively work out our gender stuff.

WE ARE AWESOME: On continuing to love & support ourselves & each other
Join a collaborative conversation about all the things we currently do, want to do, or want to do better if we’re having a rough time, including ways we can be there and show up for others in our community who may be struggling. We are all in this together so this will be an interactive discussion where we can learn more from each other about different ways we each may cope when feelings of sadness, anxiety, dysphoria, and different forms of oppression (among other kinds of feels) creep into our lives.

Nourishing Our Spirits

Cooking can be a somatic practice that allows us to ‘drop in’ to our bodies. Practice making healing food and see what arises when we engage what Lorde described as our “deepest and non-rational knowledge,” the information stored in our bodies! We’ll share how the food we eat tells a story of power, struggle, and desire. This session is for folks seeking to build beloved friendships & community through food.


Sessions for GSA Advisors, Counselors, Teachers and Parent/Guardians

Questions Parents/Guardians Ask Counselors: Part A

How can I be supportive of my LGBTQ child/family member when I need support myself? Chat with a school counselor about the questions family members often ask. Topics include LGBTQ 101, school safety, and the role of family members in “coming out.”

Questions Parents/Guardians Ask Counselors: Part B

How can I be supportive of my LGBTQ child/family member when I need support myself? Chat with a school counselor about the questions family members often ask. Topics include sex and dating, mental health, and college considerations.

What our kids need and what we need!

Session for parents, counselors and GSA advisors. Lower Evans. Come chat with us during lunch!


If you are looking for an LGBTQ friendly place to stay near the summit, we encourage you to make reservations at the Courtyard by Marriott in Decatur. You can access their webpage at

Talent Show!

At the end of the event we have an exciting talent show. Please plan to stay. If you would like to participate, please note it on this site. In addition, email Jesse McNulty ( with the type, length of act, and stage name.

Resource Fair

There is also a Resource Fair of LGBTQ organizations and supports groups to share info. Many colleges have tables sharing about their school and the GSA community there. For many high school students, this was a key resource!

GSSC, Inc is now a 501c3 public Charity !

April 11th, 2016

We just received a letter from the IRS, GSSC, Inc. (a Georgia Non Profit Corp) is now a 501(c)(3) public charity !

The effective date is(was) Oct 7, 2015, so anything donated after that date is Fed. tax deductible.

Help fund GSSC at:

gssc hand logo

Thank you so much for helping us make our schools safer!


Trans Liberation is for Everybody

May 25th, 2015

Don’t Forget – GSSC Offers Trainings!

May 14th, 2015

Request a training for your school or organization! If you would like LGBTQQIA cultural competency training or safe zone training we’ve got you covered. Please fill out this training request form!

GSSC banner with simon bell

Become a Speaker for LGBTQQIA Trainings!

October 16th, 2014

The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition is a group of teachers, parents, students and community organizers and one important service we offer is Safe Zone training for Georgia schools. We need more volunteers to become GSSC Safe Zone trainers in order to meet the huge need out there! Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a trainer.

Georgia’s Own Queer Youth – Their Experience of QYLTS Camp

September 9th, 2014

By Jessica Fisher and Kalli E.

The Queer Youth Leading The South (QYLTS) Camp convened on Wednesday, July 16th on  a cool, bright day in Georgia. The welcome mat rolled out for young people from seven southern states going from Florida to Mississippi, with even a couple guests from California.

The camp was held on the beautiful campus of Agnes Scott College, a private liberal arts women’s college in Decatur, Georgia.

The sense of community was felt almost instantly, as youth were showed to their dorms and settled into the space for the next three days.

The first evening included discussions on conflict management and a Trans Justice Workshop.

It was powerful to have the Trans Justice Workshop the first night, as language around gender identity is often the most necessary tool used by people to address their gender confusion. We were able to see that on the first night of QYLTS camp, as two youths, one from California and one from here in Georgia, expressed an interest to go by different pronouns and/or names, in an effort to explore their gender identity and to address their gender confusion. For some it was their first time in a safe space where they could explore their gender identity without fear or backlash.

And, as one Georgian trans youth put it, it was nice to not be the only trans person in the room.

The end of the first evening came way too quickly. Lots of us youth were tired and ready to sleep, but wanted to stay up and socialize, to meet the new people from across the country. Four days was too short a time to spend in such great company.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Tools Available to End the School-to-Prison-Pipeline!

March 19th, 2014

gwinnett rallyAll young people need to be in school and feel safe there in order to learn. That’s why we’re committed to building safe and welcoming schools where students are free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and harsh discipline policies.

As we forge ahead in this important work, we’re using two new resources to advocate for inclusive and effective school policies:

Model School Code
The Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Model Code on Education and Dignity presents a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and protect the human rights of education, dignity, participation and freedom from discrimination. The Code is the culmination of several years of research and dialogue with students, parents, educators, advocates and researchers who came together to envision a school system that supports all young people in reaching their full potential.

A recently revised version of the Model Code is now available and includes new sections on:

  • social and emotional learning;
  • prevention and response to bullying behavior;
  • reducing tickets and summonses issued in school;
  • reducing racial disparities in discipline through culturally responsive classroom management; and
  • creating safe schools for LGBTQ students.

Just click here to download this resource! restorative practices

Restorative Justice Toolkit
A new, innovative tool designed to help improve school climate and reduce racial disparities in school discipline. This toolkit was jointly released by Advancement Project, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign. The toolkit focuses on strategies to build healthy relationships between students and adults in educational settings. This approach allows students and individuals to learn from their mistakes and make amends for wrongdoing. The “restorative practices” model includes addressing and discussing the needs of the school community, resolving conflict, holding individuals and groups accountable, repairing and restoring relationships, and reducing and preventing harmful behavior. Click here to download this resource!

Data on Suspensions
Overuse of out-of-school suspension is one of the key drivers of school pushout of minority students. It is one practice among many that make it more likely for students — especially LGBTQ students, students of color, immigrant students, and students with disabilities — to leave school instead of finish it.

Want to know the suspension rates for students by school district in your area? Check out School Discipline Data from The Center for Civil Rights Remedies (CCRR).

This useful tool quickly sorts through data on more than 26,000 U.S. schools and approximately 7,000 districts to present the reader with clear yet detailed graphs based on the analysis published in two recent CCRR reports — Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School and Out of School & Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools.

A joint initiative of the federal Departments of Justice and Education released a long-awaited guidance package on school discipline.  According to a joint statement the guidance will “will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.”

The guidance includes the following:

  1. Unpublished 2011-12 CRDC data that reveals that stark racial disparities persist in the administration of school discipline.
  2. Disciplinary actions that will trigger heightened scrutiny from DOE/DOJ when they result in racial disparities.
  3. The legal framework within which the Departments will consider allegations of racially discriminatory discipline practices.
  4. Examples of remedies to redress violations of racial discrimination.
  5. Best practice recommendations for school districts, administrators, teachers, and staff.

Click here to download the guidance package. Dignity in Schools also hosted a webinar explaining the new guidance and it can be downloaded here.

The release of this guidance package is a major step forward in dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline. It is the federal government’s strongest acknowledgement yet of the pervasiveness and impact of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Of course, this is a result of years of work by students, parents and other advocates who have demanded that policy makers address the problem.

While the guidance package is a victory in its own right, it also creates an opportunity to strengthen our current efforts. If you want to dismantle the school to prison pipeline in your school, either as a student or teacher/parent, get in contact with us so we can connect you to our local efforts and the work of our state and national partners!

Thanks to Dignity in Schools, Advancement Project, Equality Federation, and GSA Network for the information listed here.

To learn more about school to prison pipeline efforts in Georgia, check out these local organizations:

Gwinnett SToPP, Atlanta Community Engagement Team, Interfaith Children’s Movement, ACLU of Georgia

Jenna’s Love: A Scholarship for Fierce Youth Change Agents

December 8th, 2013

jennas love

Scholarship Description:
Jenna Thomas is an amazing human being whom you cannot even begin to talk about in past tense! We are a group of siblings, parents, friends, activists, and advocates whose lives are better because we know Jenna Thomas. Jenna is a relentless activist and advocate and has significantly contributed to making the world a better place by leading workshops and seminars to educate others and personally mentoring friends and family. She is down to earth, has a very unique sense of humor and loads and loads of kindness for those different and similar to her. If you ever met Jenna, your life was transformed – even in a small amount of time. Jenna helps us believe in the power of love, connection, and community! Oh, and by the way, Jenna was a fierce young transgender woman who liberated herself and others along her journey. Hey Miss Jenna – We love you!

Scholarship Amount:

Scholarship Criteria:
This scholarship will be awarded to a very special youth who:

·      Believes in the power of love, friendship and leadership to transform the world into a better place

·      Has an excellent sense of humor!

·      Demonstrates kindness and compassion to others in meaningful ways

·      Has a strong commitment to activism and social justice

·      Is currently enrolled in a degree program at a post-secondary educational institution

This scholarship will be presented at the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition’s Annual GSA Youth Summit at Agnes Scott College.

Scholarship Application Materials:

·      1 personal essay (1 page) describing how the applicant meets the above criteria

·      2 letters from a teacher, mentor, or fellow activist describing personal qualities of love, compassion, humor, and commitment to education, activism and social justice

Scholarship Application Deadline:
January 11 each year.

Email application materials to: Kristen Badger (, Anneliese Singh (, and Sir Jesse McNulty (

Please direct any questions about the application process to Anneliese Singh at 404.849.8186.

Are Schools Creating Prisoners?

October 1st, 2013

pushout profile picJavon, a 14 year old freshmen in high school, woke up this morning like every other morning, not realizing his life was about to take a turn for the worse.  To describe Javon one would say he is a youthful and fun spirit, has an amazing singing voice, and he is quite popular among the girls.  He wants to go to Columbia College for Theater Directing.  He is very respectful to all his teachers which he is known for, but there is just one thing different about him.  Javon came out as gay at the age of 12 to his Mom.  He felt safe when he told his Mom, and because she accepted him, he didn’t care what others had to say to him . . . until today.

As Javon is walking down the hall being himself, hanging with a group of his friends, another group of guys walk by.  Within seconds, he is called “punk” “sissy” “faggot” and “homo.”  He is used to the name calling and usually lets it roll off his back but today it turns physical. He is pushed and knocked over by one of the guys in the group.  Javon, blacks out and when he comes to, he is being pulled off the boy who pushed him.  There is blood and Javon can’t figure out why he has a major grip on his algebra book.

A few hours later, Javon is sitting in the Principal’s office hunched over, shaking with his Mom is sitting next to him.  “Expelling him seems a little too harsh given he has never done anything like this before,” she says.

“Mrs. Jackson, he broke the other student’s nose and his parents are looking at pressing charges.  We have a Zero Tolerance Policy in this school and unfortunately, my hands are tied when it comes to the policy.”

Javon sits there quietly wondering what just happened?  If he gets expelled, can he get into another school?  How will it look on his records?  Did he just lose his chance getting into Columbia College, even with this being his first offense? 

The most disturbing thing about this story is not the broken nose or even the name calling.  It is the fact that this is a common occurrence in many schools across the country, especially for students who identify as LGBTQQI.  The scarier thing is that number jumps quickly when it comes to students of color.

So what is the deal with School Pushout?  Just like in the story with Javon, one of the issues that LGBTQQI youth, youth of color, and students with disabilities face is harsh disciplinary actions such as suspension, expulsion, and arrests, even for minor infractions. Unevenly applied discipline, plus a hostile school climate, all lead to students essentially being pushed out of school.

Pushback against Pushout is a campaign that works to end policies like Zero Tolerance and replace them with restorative policies that foster better school climates through investing in solutions and counseling strategies.  Without this, students face a No-Win situation.  Either they face coming to a school every day where they don’t feel safe and face ridicule and harassment or they are told “go ahead and stand up for who you are but as soon as you do, you’ll be slapped with a suspension, expulsion or be sent to juvenile detention.”

I know this personally about Javon  . . . Because Javon is my middle name.

Luckily I was able to overcome my own oppression in school and I am now an educator and expert on working with LGBTQQ African American Youth. I have worked with over 100,000 students around the country and unfortunately my experience is not unique; there is a level of urgency to this issue because it is a growing problem.

Did you know that on average, states spend $88,000 a year to incarcerate one youth, but only $10,000 to educate one?

Just ONE youth!

In Georgia, youth of color face higher discipline rates, lower graduation rates, and more days out of school compared to their white counterparts. There isn’t even data collected for LGBTQQI students, but based on research and student surveys and the stories we hear from students who reach out to us for help, we know they face similar challenges and a hostile school environment. When you take a moment to look

at preparing our students for the real world, Pushout is teaching them intolerance and doesn’t allow room to discuss differences or learn from mistakes.  This is for both sides of the fence.  For our LBGTQQI youth, youth of color and youth with disabilities, they are indirectly taught don’t be yourself!  Oh and by the way, if you do, you can pretty much kiss your education good bye.  Then for those who are the offenders, the ones doing the bullying behavior, we are teaching them “you don’t have to discuss it, if they stand up to you, just know that both of you may kiss your future good bye.”

I know this may seem extreme, however, when you have schools throughout the country where they are virtually taught in a prison environment (i.e. armed security guards, metal detectors), you have to ask yourself what type of climate are we really providing for our youth?

Also, here are two other suggestions:gsas4justice

  1. If you are a student in a GSA or LGBTQQI organization check out this guide for GSAs to participate in the Week of Action! Includes a meme template for social media and easy ways to show your support. Post on our facebook or twitter to increase local reach!
  1. If you are an alumni of GSA or any organization at your school that supports LGBTQQI students, reach out to them and ask how you can support them.  The boost from alumni will bring both awareness to the matter and introduce a community of support and resiliency.

Promote the Week of Action on Social Media!

  • Email your Senator today through Dignity in Schools federal Action Alert calling on our Senators to support school discipline reform in ESEA!
  • Each day of the week we will promote a different theme related to school pushout. Help us kick off the Week of Action with the theme for September 30th – Racial Disparities in School Discipline.
  • Check out Dignity in Schools latest videos:
  • Change your Twitter and Facebook logos to the Week of Action “Push Back Against School Pushout” icon by clicking here.
  • As the Week of Action unfolds and post your own messages using the suggested hashtags: #SchoolPushout #CounselorsNotCops #SolutionsNotSuspensions

By participating in the Week of Action you are adding your voice to the dialog and collectively sending a louder message to not only your community but to the world.  We are Pushing Back Against Pushout! We are all taking a stand to support students like Javon, and all the youth who are still being impacted by these policies.


Aric Image Resized on pic resize  For the last eight years, Speaker & Author A’ric Jackson, has impacted the lives of over 100,000 students, teachers and parents across the globe.  He is an Activist for Equal Education Opportunities for all, and is the National Expert in how to Understand, Reach and Teach African American Gay and Lesbian Youth.  His latest book Understanding, Reaching, and Teaching African American Youth In and Out of the Classroom is being released Fall 2013.  He is excited to partner with Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Georgia Equality and looking to continue his impact of Equal Education for ALL!  Visit his website at

The Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp 2013

August 8th, 2013

Three weeks ago I piled into a van with seven Georgia youth and drove six sticky hours into the heart of Mississippi. We were on our way to the second annual Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp, a gathering of around 40 queer youth from across the south.

The camp was created collaboratively between several groups organizing across state lines: the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Georgia Equality, Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center, and GSA Network were the main sponsors of the camp along with several other supporting organizations.

The camp was created in order to strengthen regional bonds and provide tools and support for the next generation of social justice leaders. The camp is primarily run by youth and attendees learn to use their students clubs (most often Gay-Straight Alliances) to work towards social justice for all, in their schools, community, and the world. Campers learned about the intersections of race, class, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation and how their identities and the struggles others face are interconnected.

Campers also had the opportunity to visit many significant Civil Rights historical sites, including Medgar Ever’s home, the COFO Center, the original building considered to be the “nerve center” of the Mississippi freedom movement. Campers learned first-hand about the turbulent struggle these activists experienced and their tactics for survival and radical change in the most segregated state in the South. The campers connected their struggle with the Civil Rights movement and learned the hard-won lessons from their victories and sacrifices.

For me, the most powerful moment happened on Saturday night while the campers were preparing for the Talent Show. The verdict for the Trayvon Martin case was released and we found out that George Zimmerman had been acquitted. After spending all day learning about racism through an institutional and historical lens, this ruling was a concrete example of the injustices we’d been discussing in theory.

There was an immediate and visceral outpouring of grief and anger; campers began to share their own stories of being targeted, discriminated against, and made to feel afraid, just because of how they looked. They shared stories about how they could have been Trayvon, how they had lost friends, how discrimination reaches beyond just gun violence. Some cried, some raged, some sang and others prayed, in the end everyone was affected by it and shared something in a raw and organic way that we never could have planned for.

Eventually, they wanted action. We quickly organized an impromptu candle light vigil and headed down to the Mississippi capitol where police were already waiting. We were turned away and instead held the candle light vigil in the parking lot of the hotel where we were staying.

The outpouring continued in words, songs and tears and as we stood there in solidarity with our candles, something special began to happen. Other residents at the hotel, people completely unrelated to the camp, began to walk over and silently join our circle. They shared that moment with us and we began the healing process together that night. It was a transformative experience for many of the youth, none of us, adults included, will forget where we were and who we were with when the verdict was released.

It was an intense four days; campers left with a much deeper understanding oppression and what they can do to change the injustices they experience and what a true community of resistance looks like. We went our separate ways and returned to our home states with new friends, perspectives, tools, and passion. These young leaders will be the future of our movement and formidable agents of change wherever they go.

A few campers shared what they got out of the experience:

“My favorite part of camp was definitely the Trans*Justice Workshop because being transgender is a foreign concept for lots of people. This showed us how to get the word out there and educate people to make transphobia less apparent.”

“At the camp I learned a lot about many things but the most important thing I took from the camp was the racial justice segment, it informed me a lot about the bias people face even in our own community. Also, I enjoyed the experience of the camp, meeting lots of great people and learning and hearing everybody’s story.”

“When I did this camp last year I never expected to fall in love with it or make the lifelong friends I did. But when I was asked to come back this year to be a leader I accepted right away, seeing different southern states come together to fight for not only our individual rights as people but for the rights of our fellow activists gives me so much hope for the future as we know it. The camp is nothing less than magic in its purest form. It makes me believe every time I go.”