Founding a New LGBTQ Organization

 

If your group is new, or you are trying to revitalize a defunct organization, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. But it’s not as hard as you think. The key is to involve as many LGBTQ and ally students as possible and always strive to make the organization truly inclusive from the beginning. An organization will only be as successful as it’s founding members and purpose.Before you get started, here are a few questions you need to answer:

Who will be the membership of this group?

How will the leadership be structured?

What will be the focus of the group?

Where and when (how often) will this group meet?

What process do you need to go through to be official?

Who will be the membership of this group?

Will the organization be open only to students, or will community members, faculty and staff be allowed to join? 

If only students can join, does that include graduate students? Maybe you want to create an organization for LGBTQ alumni. Check into what other organizations already exist (if any) to make sure you’re drawing the right audience.

How will the leadership be structured?

A hierarchy seems out-dated for a progressive group, but is familiar and usually works. Other groups find it successful to have each officer be equal, naming them something like “co-chairs,” or committee heads. You will have to think about what will work best for your group. There are pro’s and con’s to every organizational structure, so you may want to do some research.

What will be the focus of the group?

Will your group be a social club, a political action committee, or a support group – or all three? Will meetings be discussion-based or action-oriented? If discussion-based, what will meeting topics consist of? What types of programming and events will you offer? Educational, motivational, or political, you must decide what your group will do and it’s focus as an LGBTQ organization.

Where and when (how often) will this group meet?

Can you rent a room in your student union, or is the membership small enough to meet at someone’s dorm room? You may want to consider that some of your members may not be comfortable meeting somewhere very public, but you also want to give some visibility to your organization to make it grow. Finding that balance can be difficult sometimes. Also, will you meet every week or once a month? This, of course, depends on how big your group is and what your focus will be.

What process do you need to go through to be official, officially recognized and, or funded?

This can usually be found on your student organization and, or club council’s website or in your student activities handbook. You will want to be as professional as possible in creating a group like an LGBTQ that may cause controversy on your campus. If the school won’t officially recognize your organization because of its constituency, there are actions you can take. Remember that private schools and religious institutions don’t always have to follow the same guidelines as public universities, so you will want to research your campus policies, state and local laws.

Suggestions for Writing a Charter

Below are some helpful hints for your group and a sample charter:

  • Keep it simple; avoid confusing, “legalistic” terms.
  • Present a draft to the Office of Student Programs staff for suggestions.
  • Include guidelines to govern organization and clearly state its purpose.
  • Put specific details (i.e., duties of officers) in By-laws which are more easily amended than the charter.
  • Amendments — changes directly to the body of the charter or constitution.
  • By-laws –are specific rules which are not included in the constitution, yet are of such importance that they cannot be changed without using formal procedure. By-laws may detail members responsibilities, meeting times, location, attendance requirements, etc.

Sample Charter

ARTICLE I – Name, Purpose, and Affiliation

Section 1: Name of organization

Section 2: Purpose of organization (objective/s)

Section 3: Organization affiliation (local, state, national, or international organizations)

ARTICLE II- Adhere to College Policies

Section 1: Statement that organization adheres to college rules, regulations, and policies (including Honor Code)

Section 2: Statement that organization will adhere to all local, state, and federal laws

ARTICLE III – Membership

Section 1: Membership requirements (listed as “a”, “b”, “c”, etc.)

Section 2: Membership privileges

Section 3: Organization does not discriminate based on – race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation

ARTICLE IV – Officers

Section 1: Titles of officers

Section 2: Qualifications of officers

Section 3: Duties of officers

ARTICLE V – Advisor

Section 1: How the advisor is chosen (if any)

ARTICLE VI – Election and Removal of Officers

Section 1: Time of election

Section 2: Election procedures

Section 3: Procedure for removal of officers

ARTICLE VII – Meetings

Section 1: Frequency of regular meetings

Section 2: Provision for special meetings

ARTICLE VIII – Quorum

Section 1: Definition of a quorum (i.e., 2/3 majority, 50% + 1, etc.)

Section 2: When a quorum is necessary

ARTICLE IX- Amendments and By-Laws

Section 1: Provision for amendments

Section 2: Provision for By-laws

ARTICLE X – Committees

Section 1: Outline any standing committees

Source: Campus Pride, 2005.

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