Frequently Asked Questions
Do we require parental permission for students under 18 years of age?
Yes. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
How is the Summit related to the State Council?
The Summit is a multi-day conference for high school students who are selected for seats on the coming school year’s State GSA Leadership Council. Complete this application to be considered for both the Summit and a full year’s participation in the State Council.
Are there any fees required for attending Summit?
The Massachusetts GSA Student Leadership Summit is free to attend. All individuals who are accepted will be provided with overnight accommodations at UMass Amherst, meals, and transportation from pick-up/drop-off locations throughout the state.
Is the Summit in-person?
Yes. The Summit will take place August 13-16th, 2021, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The event is an overnight trip including two evenings (Saturday and Sunday) for students in a shared room; and three evenings (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for volunteers. All participants will be provided with accommodations and food for the full weekend.
The status of the GSA Leadership Summit as in person or virtual depends on Massachusetts COVID-19 guidelines and is subject to change. At this time, we are planning for an in-person event, so we expect students to be able to participate in the Summit and monthly meetings in an in-person capacity. Last summer, we successfully ran our annual Summit over Zoom as an online three-day program, so we would be able to switch to this model depending on COVID-19 guidelines in the summer. In a virtual format, programming would be shortened and with added breaks for students in-between, but would contain all the same workshops, speakers, and programming.
What do I need to pack?
Please bring clothing (both casual and for outdoor activities, including sneakers) and toiletries. A packing list will be provided.
What is the difference between being a student and a volunteer?
The GSA State Leadership Council structure includes 5 regional groups (Northeast, Southeast, Greater Boston, Central, and Western). Each region consists of 10 students and 5 volunteers. A total of 50 students and 25 volunteers will form the GSA State Leadership Council.
- Students must be in grades 9-12 during the 2021-22 school year.
2. Students must live in Massachusetts through the 2021-22 school year.
Students will attend 3 days of Summit, August 14-16th.
1. All volunteers are required to have completed high school or its equivalency.
2. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age by the application submission date.
3. Volunteers must live in Massachusetts through the 2021-22 school year (preferably in the region you’re applying to support).
Volunteers will attend all 4 days of Summit (Friday-Monday), assist in facilitating the Summit program, and attend both State and Regional Council meetings. . Volunteers should be committed to participating during the full school year as support for the Council.
What is the expected commitment to the Summit and the Council?
After the three-day Summit retreat, council members are expected throughout the school year to participate in monthly 4-hour meetings (5 State Meetings & 5 Regional Meetings), as well as planning meetings. Regional meetings will be hosted at high schools within the students’ regions, while State meetings will be hosted at the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education headquarters in Malden.
Policy Teams are a new initiative for the 2021 GSA Student Leadership Council. In your application, you can identify which team(s) you are most interested in:
1. Education: This team will build relationships with and provide recommendations to education-based agencies in MA, like the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Safe and Supportive Schools Commission.
2. Advocacy & Outreach: This team will focus on community organizing, including a range of advocacy and outreach strategies (i.e. social media campaigns, school-based initiatives, training facilitation, etc.).
3. Research: This team will advance research projects focused on LGBTQ+ youth.
4. Legislative: This team will focus on supporting relevant legislation.
5. Health: This team will focus on mental health, well-being, and health-related policies.
Policy Teams will meet during each Statewide Meeting and as needed outside of monthly meetings. Each Policy Team will design a project and present their work to the MA Commission on LGBTQ Youth at one of the four quarterly meetings. All team projects will include racial justice as a core value of their work.
Additional engagement opportunities will be shared throughout the year and are optional.
How do we ensure student safety?
All Summit participants agree to the following community expectations.
The Massachusetts GSA Student Leadership Summit is free of sex, drugs, violence, weapons, pressure and harassment. The success of this Leadership Summit relies on every participant’s pledge to follow that commitment and the following rules. These rules apply from the moment you arrive at the bus boarding location until the moment you leave the bus at the end of the conference.
- Demonstrate basic respect for others and their property.
- Listen to others, and be willing to compromise.
- Maintain the confidentiality and respect of all Summit participants.
- Be a representative of the Summit by modeling positive behavior and
- respecting both fellow Summit participants and UMass Amherst facilities
- where the Summit is being held.
- Do not engage in harassment of any kind.
- Remain on campus or with an adult staff member at all times.
- Do not bring alcohol or other drugs to the Summit, and do not use alcohol or
- other drugs at any point during the Summit.
- Do not bring any weapons to the Summit.
- Respect the rule of no sexual intimacy during the Summit.
- You may not use or possess marijuana, medical marijuana, or marijuana paraphernalia in any form anywhere on UMass Amherst property.
If any Summit participant violates the Respect & Safety pledge by breaking any of these rules, they may be restricted to their room for the remainder of the Summit or immediately asked to leave. If under 18, parents/guardians will be called. Law enforcement will be called for serious infractions.
Is Summit accessible?
Please identify any accommodations on your application form. We will provide all needed accommodations for all students and volunteers.
Can I still join the GSA State Leadership Council if I am unable to attend Summit?
We recognize that people have prior summer commitments and welcome anyone who can commit to the 2021-22 GSA State Leadership Council to apply. Please let us know if you anticipate a conflict with attending Summit in your application so we can best prepare to support you. Priority may be given to students who can attend the Summit.
Who is staffing the event?
The Summit will be staffed by staff members from the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and volunteers. Ev Gilbert (GSA Program Administrator), Kimm Topping (Safe Schools Program Manager), and Jeff Perrotti (Lead Consultant) will be the main points of contact throughout the weekend. You can learn more about our staff here.