Study: LGBTQ students in schools with Gay-Straight Alliances feel safer, experience less bullying
High school can be pretty terrible. Add being a sexual minority to the equation and it can get even worse. But a new study from Vanderbilt University shows something as simple as a LGBTQ-inclusive club can work wonders for LGBTQ students.
The new report is a meta-analysis of 15 independent studies surveying nearly 63,000 high school students. It was conducted by Robert Marx and Heather Hensman Kettrey at Vanderbilt’sPeabody Research Institute, and published by Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
The researchers found that students who attended a school with a GSA were:
- 52 percent less likely to hear homophobic remarks;
- 36 percent less likely to be fearful for their personal safety; and
- 30 percent less likely to experience homophobic victimization
While the numbers themselves are impressive, Kettrey said the clubs really help to offer a safe space in an environment sourounded by straight and gender-conforming classmates.
“LGBTQ students are at an increased risk of victimization in high schools, and our work suggests that GSAs might be a promising solution to this problem,” the researcher associate at the Peabody Research Institute said.
At a time where sexual and gender minority youth continue to see elevated chances of suicide, Marx said these clubs can offer a sanctuary as parents and politicians alike work to criminalize human behavior like bathroom use and how someone wears their hair or clothes.
“Society makes it very hard to be a queer youth,” he said. “I think it’s really important to understand the healing and transformative power of being a part of a supportive community. When we join together as allies and take a stand against hate and share our lives, it forms a whole that is greater than sum of its individual parts.”
As GayRVA found out last summer, many schools in the Central Virginia area have Gay-Straight Alliances or similar clubs under different names.
“Lots of LGBTQ’s and allies don’t have a lot of resources… and we have the opportunity to share it with people,” said Sarah Law, a junior at Maggie Walker and who organized the 2015 Governor’s School GSA Conference which was held last November. ““It’s a very important thing to have so students can learn, but [also] feel like they’re not alone in Richmond.”
“It’s very difficult to get that education and get a reliable source of information for that education, almost the entire piece is about how a lot of queer education comes from the internet and while it’s a great source, it’s not alway the most reliable source.”May 26, 2016
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