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 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.”