The Impact of Belonging to a High School Gay/Straight Alliance
Abstract

This qualitative investigation studies the impact of belonging to a high school Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA or Alliance) on the lives of seven students. Individual and focus group interviews were conducted over a two-year time period. The author used voices of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and straight students to relate the experiences unique to each participant. In addition, data from media and spoken transcripts, video tapes of news reports, grade records, and the GSA advisor's personal observations were analyzed and organized into a framework of seven categories of impact. The results support previous research that Alliances positively impact academic performance, school/social/and family relationships, comfort level with sexual orientation, development of strategies to handle assumptions of heterosexuality, sense of physical safety, increased perceived ability to contribute to society, and an enhanced sense of belonging to school community. Implications for educators and questions for further research are included.


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