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Scholars from COC's GSA Network sail along in Canal Parade  

COC's GSA Network is sailing in Pride Amsterdam's Canal Parade for the first time on August 6. On the boat, high school students from across the Netherlands will campaign for a safe and inclusive school for all.  

The letters GSA stand for Gender and Sexuality Alliance: an alliance between students of different sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and gender characteristics. Together, they are committed to creating a safe and inclusive school where everyone can freely be themselves. The best-known GSA action is Purple Friday. There are GSAs active in about a thousand secondary schools and mbo programs in the Netherlands (about 80 percent of secondary schools). 

On the GSA boat, one hundred GSA students from all twelve provinces will sail along. Also represented are well-known GSA ambassadors such as actress Hanna van Vliet, actor and presenter Leendert de Ridder, activist and podcaster Nanoah Struik and YouTube star and singer Alice Olsthoorn.   

With protest signs, students show the causes they are campaigning for at school. For example, for a safe school where diversity is the norm, knowledgeable teachers, anti-bullying policies and inclusive education.  

Students want the school to respect their self-selected names and pronouns, and they advocate for gender-inclusive restrooms. Alice Olsthoorn will give a special performance during the cruise, premiering a GSA song about gender-inclusive toilets. This song calls attention to the importance of safe and accessible toilets for everyone at school, regardless of gender or sex. The theme of Pride Amsterdam is My gender, my pride. 

The GSA boat is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. OCW won the award for boat with best message at the last Canal Parade in 2019. The ministry ceded its wild card for Pride 2022 to COC's GSA Network. The GSA boat was developed by COC together with young people from the GSA Network and the Trippin Angels.

Wil je zelf op school een GSA oprichten? Ga dan naar de website van COC’s GSA Netwerk en vraag het gratis actiepakket aan. Het GSA netwerk wordt ondersteund door COC Nederland. Wil je in een veilige omgeving andere lhbti+ jongeren ontmoeten, sluit je dan aan bij COC’s Jong&Out-community

Photo: Tom Garlic for COC Netherlands