Student Resource

Guidelines for Respectful GSA Spaces

Having a set of agreements will help ensure that your meetings are respectful and provide a safe place for everyone.

Read the Resource

NO ASSUMPTIONS — EXCEPT FOR BEST INTENTIONS. People should not assume other people’s experiences or anything else. The only assumption people should make is that when other participants speak, they are speaking with the best intentions and do not mean to offend anyone.

CORRECT GENTLY, BUT DO CORRECT. If participants say something that is incorrect or offensive, politely address what was said. Letting comments slip by only makes the space less safe and increases the difficulty of building successful partnerships.

DON’T “YUCK MY YUM.” When group members share their likes and dislikes, respect their personal opinions and preferences.

USE “I” STATEMENTS. Everyone should speak from his/her/hir/their own experiences.

AVOID MAKING GENERALIZATIONS. Don’t make blanket statements about any groups of people. (In addition to members of the LGBTQ community, this also includes political parties, religious groups, socioeconomic classes, age ranges, etc.) If you’re not sure that something you want to say is factually correct, phrase it as a question. Having a set of agreements will help ensure that your meetings are respectful and provide a safe place for everyone.

ONE MIC, ONE VOICE. Only one person should speak at a time.

MAKE SPACE, TAKE SPACE. Participants should be aware of how much they are speaking. If they feel they are speaking a lot, they should let others speak, and if they find themselves not talking, they should try to contribute some comments, ideas or suggestions.

RESPECT CONFIDENTIALITY. Assume that stories and comments shared at meetings should remain private. Ask for consent before you share someone’s story or comment.

LEAN INTO DISCOMFORT. Meetings and topics can sometimes be challenging. Be willing to experience some discomfort in discussions, and learn from it as a team!

UPHOLD COMMITMENTS. The key to a safe and successful team is honoring your commitments to the group. If you cannot go through with a commitment, make sure to let people know and find someone to take your place.

PERSONALIZE THESE AGREEMENTS! Have one of the first meetings of the year be focused on creating a list like this or adding to this list to set your group’s agreements for the year. Revisit your agreements as reminders for the space you are creating and in case any agreements need to be updated.