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Bosque School
Bosque School

Bobcat Stories

Affinity and Alliance Groups

This school year, as part of our commitment to cultivating community, Bosque School has relaunched affinity and alliance groups for our students in both the middle and upper school divisions.

Affinity groups are gathering spaces for individuals who share an identity. In independent schools, affinity groups are most commonly organized around shared racial identities, but they can also be defined by gender identity, sexual identity, religious affiliation, neurodiversity, and family structure.

The purpose of the affinity group is to help provide a sense of belonging for those students whose identities may not be reflected in the larger community. Affinity groups can help create this sense of belonging by giving students a space to connect and build relationships; discuss similar experiences they may have based on their shared identity; and find community with other students, teachers, and staff who can relate to those experiences.

The close cousin of the affinity group is the alliance group. Like affinity groups, alliance groups are organized around a particular identity, yet membership in these groups is also open to allies. While affinity groups may provide more emotional safety than alliance groups, alliance groups can be useful for students who may still be in the process of determining their identities. For example, GSAs (gender-sexuality alliances) are common alliance groups that allow students to explore gender and sexual identities while also uplifting those students who openly identify as queer.

At this time, Bosque School supports eight affinity, alliance, and other ECC (equity, community, and culture) student groups, with several more groups in the planning process. Current groups include the Asian Affinity Space, the Black Affinity Group, Bridges (dialogue club), the Hispanic Affinity Group, the Middle School GSA, the Upper School GSA, VOICES (Bosque’s Middle School ECC advisory committee), and the Women's Advocacy Coalition. These groups meet 1-3 times per month and are organized and facilitated by Bosque School staffulty and students. Priorities for Bosque School's affinity and alliance groups include:

  • Providing a safe space for students to support one another
  • Encouraging bonding and relationship-building
  • Sharing and celebrating culture
  • Facilitating identity development
  • Discussing identity-specific opportunities and challenges at Bosque School and beyond
  • Discussing current events Organizing school-based events, such as cultural celebrations and educational presentations
  • Engaging in advocacy and activism

Students who attend Bosque School’s affinity and alliance groups report that these spaces give them a stronger sense of community and belonging. For example, two 6th-grade students and close friends attend different affinity groups. “I really like it,” one of the students says of the Black Affinity Group. “It gives us something to relate to since we have similar experiences; it gives us comfort.”

“It feels like bringing community together,” her friend says of the Asian Affinity Space. She adds, “There are so little of us [Asian American students at Bosque] that it’s nice to know we’re there for each other.”

For families interested in learning more about the purpose and value of affinity groups, Julia Kingsdale, Bosque School's ECC educator, recommends starting with Episode 20 of the eRaced Podcast, on which podcast hosts Lisa Johnson and Collette Bowers Zinn interview Rosetta Lee, the country’s leading expert on affinity groups at independent schools.

On the podcast, Lee reviews some of the latest research on how bias affects student performance at school and how affinity and alliance groups can help independent school students overcome these challenges. In addition, students, families, and staffulty interested in learning more about affinity and alliance groups at Bosque School should feel free to reach out to Julia at julia.kingsdale@bosqueschool.org.