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GSAs provide an important space for so many students to explore their identities, make friends, and develop leadership skills. Like any other organization, it’s important for GSAs to have some guidelines around how meetings are run and expectations for how its members conduct themselves.
At the start of the school year, we think it’s important for GSAs to collectively create group agreements. If all the members of the club contribute to this list, then it’s a lot easier down the road to address conflict and any other issues that arise. To create group agreements, you can simply ask the question, “How do we want to treat one another in this space?” Here are some sample group agreements that we like:
- When one person is talking, others should be listening. This one is self-explanatory. It’s hard to get things done when people are talking over one another.
- What’s said here, stays here. What’s learned here, leaves here. GSA should be a place where people can share things about their identity and not worry about that being discussed outside of GSA. But take other GSA knowledge and learning with you!
- Take space, make space. If you’re someone who tends to talk a lot, challenge yourself to wait and let others talk first. And if you’re someone who tends to hold back and listen, challenge yourself to contribute a little more.
- Use “I” statements. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions, as long as they are sharing from their own personal experience. Avoid speaking on behalf of others or making broad generalizations about groups of people.
- We are all learning. If you’ve spent a lot of time reading about LGBTQ+ identities, try to remember that there was a time when you were just learning, too. Be patient with people who have just begun their learning. You still have things to learn, too.
- Care for each other. Social change work is hard and it’s easy to take out our stress on one another. Be gentle and kind with each another. We’re all in this together!
Feel free to use these with your own GSA, and tell us about other ones that you use!