"It's just been a place of belonging": Oral Histories of GSAs/QSAs in Alberta

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Please join the Department of Sociology for:

It's just been a place of belonging":  Oral Histories of GSAs/QSAs in Alberta
by Tiffany Semach and Dr. Athena Elafros

March 10, 2023 at 2:00 pm  Zoom registration required

ABSTRACT: Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs)/ Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) are youth-led groups aimed at providing welcoming, inclusive opportunities for two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and all other sexual and gender minority (2SLGBTQ+) students and their allies to gather. The first GSAs in Alberta were created in the early 2000s in public high schools. In this talk we discuss our ongoing oral history project that aims to document the experiences of GSA/QSA members and facilitators from Alberta, Canada who have been involved in a GSA/QSA over the last twenty years. We will also officially launch our webpage (https://gsaoralhistories.com) which draws upon our initial findings from interviews with 10 facilitators and participants of GSAs in Alberta. In this presentation we will: 1) outline some of the history of GSA legislation in Alberta; 2) highlight some of the emergent key themes from our interviews; and 3) discuss some of the challenges and opportunities of this type of community-based oral history research project, with attention to the challenge of conducting interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athena Elafros (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Lethbridge. She is a qualitative cultural sociologist who studies culture and inequality. Her most recent projects include collaborations with Dr. Christopher Churchill on the role of different forms of labour within musical and literary cultural fields; Dr. Amandine Pras, Grace Brooks, and Monica Lockett on sound engineers’ and producers’ experiences of microaggressions in the recording studio; and Tif Semach on collecting and preserving the oral histories of GSA members and facilitators in Alberta, Canada.

 Tif Semach (she/they) is a Sessional Instructor in Sociology and Kinesiology at the University of Lethbridge, Sessional Instructor in the 2+2 Niitsitapi Arts and Science Diploma Program at Red Crow Community College, and a Ph.D student in Cultural, Social, and Political Thought at the University of Lethbridge. Their doctoral research will examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on 2SLGBTQ+ high school students in Alberta, Canada. 


Jenny Oseen | oseejs@uleth.ca | (403) 329-2551