High school gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and young adult well-being: an examination of GSA presence, participation, and perceived effectiveness

Case Studies & Research
12 p
Periodical title
Applied Developmental Science, 15:4

Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are student-led, school-based clubs that aim to provide a safe environment in the school context for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, as well as their straight allies. The present study examines the potential for GSAs to support positive youth development and to reduce associations among LGBT-specific school victimization and negative young adult well-being. The sample includes 245 LGBT young adults, ages 21-25, who retrospectively reported on the presence of a GSA in their high school, their participation in their school's GSA, and their perceptions of whether or not their GSA was effective in improving school safety. Findings revealed that the presence of a GSA, participation in a GSA, and perceived GSA effectiveness in promoting school safety were differentially associated with young adult well-being and, in some cases, buffered the negative association between LGBT-specific school victimization and well-being. Implications for future research and schools are discussed.

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