By Aiden Campbell LMSW-cc and Maura Derrivan LCPC-c
Q: What type of GSTA groups are there?
A: GSTAs can take on a number of approaches depending on the needs of the students. A GSTA is a safe space for students who are looking for support. So, make sure you are designing the group around the needs of the students. The three main types of groups are social, support, and activist.
GSTAs who gather for a social purpose can use their meetings to build community and foster stronger peer relationships. These groups may play games, do art activities, and watch movies. This approach is really focused on friendship building and community connection.
GSTAs who gather for a support purpose can use their meetings as a space for students to share the challenges they have faced along their journeys and learn from each other. These groups can also take on a social aspect and may benefit from games, movies, and art activities to provide a focus and build connection.
GSTAs that take an activist approach may spend time working to educate their peers and educators about ways to make their schools more inclusive. These students generally participate in bigger projects in their schools or in local communities. Some of these projects might address changing school rules to be more inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity; having guest speakers discuss LGBTQ+ related topics with the GSTA or the whole school; educating about LGBTQ+ issues and the importance of acceptance in a school environment; advocating for gender-neutral bathrooms, or hanging pride flags in the school/community.
Lastly, a GSTA can also be a mix of all three approaches as the group progresses throughout the school year. The group structure and focus will depend on the students’ needs and may evolve over time. Take the students’ lead in creating the group process and content that best meets their needs and desires.