Province says student sexuality alliance meetings will be held virtually amid COVID-19 pandemic

Province says student sexuality alliance meetings will be held virtually amid COVID-19 pandemic

There will be more virtual opportunities for LGBTQ2S+ students, who may be feeling vulnerable and disconnected from their peers and schools, to connect with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release issued by the province, for the first time in B.C., Gay-Straight or Gender and Sexuality Alliance meetings will be held virtually rather than in person.

GSAs are student-run and student-led, however, they require an educator to sponsor them. Since sponsors do not always have member students in their classes, and many kids go by preferred names, it has been a challenge to get the message out that GSAs can now meet virtually, according to the province.

Virtual GSAs can serve as a supportive forum for students to share information, or discuss LGBTQ2S+ issues, movies or books, and activities like playing networked video games or creating stuck-at-home music playlists, the province adds.

“I have heard heartbreaking stories about the challenges that many people in the LGBTQ2S+ community face, and for many, those feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression may be amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. These virtual meet-ups are absolutely vital so LGBTQ2S+ students can connect with their peers when they need it most. It’s these important connections that inspire us, lift us up and will help us all get through this uncertain time,” said Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addictions, in a press release.

The province also points to a Population Health Journal study of B.C. students which showed that when a GSA group has been in a school for three years or more, there are lower rates of suicidal thoughts in both gay and straight kids.

“We know that LGBTQ2S+ kids report higher rates of feeling isolated and for some students, their school community was the only place where they could be their authentic selves,” added Rob Fleming, minister of education in a press release.

The province says educators from 40 school districts, 14 independent schools and two First Nations recently took part in an ARC Foundation webinar, which taught them how to identify ways to protect students’ privacy and safety while holding virtual GSA meet-ups.

“As a GSA teacher sponsor, I’ve had supportive parents reach out to me who are concerned for their kids during this time. I wish all parents were like this, as these connections are even more important for students who don’t have the support at home. The work that ARC is doing, and the facilitation that is happening with GSA leaders right now, is so important as we work together to support our students,” said Kir Tancon, GSA teacher sponsor in the Comox Valley, in the press release.

The province also says a free, virtual WE Well-being program was launched on April 17 for grades K-12 in English and French. The program special emphasis on social-emotional learning and resiliency.

Additionally, the province says the new EASE (Everyday Anxiety Strategies for Educators) home program is available to parents and caregivers. It provides them with tips and strategies to create calming routines, help kids talk about difficult emotions and manage their anxiety.

For more information about virtual GSAs, visit


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