Gay Straight Alliances -- making the school safer for LGBTQ youth.
Educators: Needed: a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in your school!
Contact IYG's Education Program Coordinator, Lane Banister, if you have any questions or if you'd like to start a GSA, but don't know how to reach out to the LGBT students and their allies.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) has surveyed youth about their experiences in their high schools every two years for the past 10 years. Briefly what they have found is probably contrary to assumptions that many in the educational field would think. A high school principal approved a GSA at his school, but told the students that he didn't want them to publicize the group on the school PA. He felt that if bullies found out where the LGBTQ youth were hanging out they would be in danger.
What the school principal didn't realize is the GLSEN research has shown that students report:
- Students in schools with a GSA reported hearing fewer homophobic remarks, experienced less harassment and assault because of their sexual orientation and gender expression, were more likely to report incidents of harassment and assault to school staff, were less likely to feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation or gender expression, were less likely to miss school because of safety concerns and reported a greater sense of belonging to their school community.
- The presence of supportive staff contributed to a range of positive indicators including fewer reports of missing school, greater academic achievement, higher educational aspirations and a greater sense of belonging to their school community.
- Students from a school with a safe school policy that included protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression heard fewer homophobic remarks, experienced lower levels of victimization related to their sexual orientation, were more likely to report that staff intervened when hearing homophobic remarks and were more likely to report incidents of harassment and assault to school staff.
For more information about GLSEN and their School Climate Survey data, click here.