A recent study conducted by the Vanderbilt University, Tennessee has found that LGBTQ+ students who attend high schools with gay-straight alliances feel safer.
The study revealed that schools with gay-straight alliances had significantly fewer incidents of bullying due to sexual orientation or gender indenity reported, in comparison to schools without GSAs.
These findings are part of a new report conducted by Robert Marx and Heather Hensman Kettrey at Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute, and is a meta-report of 15 independent studies which looked at nearly 63,000 high school students.
According to their research, students attending schools with GSAs 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 victimisation.
Kettrey, a research associate at Peabody Research Institute, had this to say on the findings: “Compared to their 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.”
However, an interesting thing that they discovered is that the presence of gay-straight alliances was not only helpful to LGBT students.
Kettrey added: “It was interesting to find that the presence of a GSA was associated with lower levels of victimization for all students, without distinguishing between students who did and did not participate in the group.”
“Having a GSA can send a strong message to all students that their school is a welcoming place where all people are accepted and that homophobic acts will not be tolerated.”
Unsurprisingly as well, the study creators are also attesting that having a GSA is critical for reducing mental health and other health risks. Bullying of any type is horrible to experience, especially that of a homophobia nature. Having a place for students to talk freely and receive support can go a long way to reducing the risks of drug abuse, self harm and other negative effects.
Marx said: “We live in a political environment in which people are being attacked for how they live and whom they love. Society makes it very hard to be a queer youth. 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.”