We are excited to announce that Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools has changed our name to GSAFE. This new name is in some ways not so new, as many youth and supporters have called us “GSAFE” for years. Additionally, we have restructured our organizational leadership from a Co-Director model to one that includes an Executive Director and two Program Directors – a Sr. Director of Education & Policy and a Director of Youth Leadership.
Why Change The Name?
As many of you know, when we transitioned from being a local chapter of GLSEN to being our own independent 501(c)3 non-profit in 2006, we adopted the name Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools. Our intent at the time was to recognize our roots in working with Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and our mission of creating safe schools. While our intentions were good, we have since recognized that our name fails to include many members of our community who do not identify as gay or straight – such as people who are transgender, bisexual, lesbian, queer, questioning, and all the other many identities in the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, as we have deepened our work to include racial, gender, and trans* justice and taken on an educational justice framework to ensuring all LGBTQ+ youth can thrive in schools across Wisconsin, we recognize that safety is not the only issue effecting LGBTQ+ youth. While safety continues to be an issue, exclusionary discipline, cultural incompetence, and invisibility of LGBTQ people or issues in curriculum are also issues that lead to LGBTQ+ youth, and particularly LGBTQ+ youth of color and trans* youth, being pushed out of school and into the school to prison pipeline.
Why Change the Structure?
We adopted the Co-Director structure in 2011 during a time of transition. While it worked well for a time, we realized the need to strengthen our infrastructure as we grow as an organization. Looking to the future, we have decided to restructure so that staff can play to their strengths, we have greater clarity in departments, and we can most effectively advance our mission. Consequently, our new structure is as follows:
- Kristen Brock-Petroshius – Executive Director
- Brian Juchems – Sr. Director of Education & Policy
- Director of Youth Leadership (currently hiring)
Youth Leadership Program staff will report to the Director of Youth Leadership as members of the Youth Leadership Team:
- Racial Justice Youth Organizer – Ali Muldrow
- GSA Outreach Manager – Tim Michael
- Trans* Justice Youth Organizer – Orion Wells
- What Do I Need To Know?
The name change is effective immediately.
- We will continue to be legally known as “Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools”, so any grants, contracts, or legal documents with this name are still in good standing.
- Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity/expression spectrums, including transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, gender non-conforming, Two-Spirit, agender, gender questioning, etc.
- The “+” in LGBTQ+ recognizes that we will never adequately name or recognize all members of our community and their diverse identities. The + includes identities not explicitly included in “LGBTQ” (lesbian, bay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) such as pansexual, intersex, asexual, Two -Spirit, latinx, and all the other identities our communities carry. Additionally, the + recognizes that while we carry identities specific to our gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, we also carry identities based on our race, ethnicity, class, culture, religion, ability and other factors. LGBTQ+ comprehensively includes all members of our community in all our identities.
For more information, contact Kristen Brock-Petroshius, Executive Director, at 608-661-4141 or Kristen@gsafewi.org.