Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) are a controversial form of organization that promotes tolerance and education within high schools across North America. Some have been banned by schools that feel they are inappropriate for a youthful setting. However, a new study has finally shown evidence that their benefits are many.
Bullying and discrimination at the school level can have many negative effects for LGBT youth, including increased rates of suicide, HIV risk, and dropping out of school. Thus, the study’s findings that GSAs increased grades and college admission rates of their participants, as well as lowered the reported incidences of depression, are highly significant.
The indirect benefits of GSAs (as opposed to groups that are “anti-bullying” but not allowed to use words like “gay,” as happens at some religious schools) are also multiple. At schools with GSAs, teachers are more likely to report bullying if they see it, and reported levels of tolerance are higher.
As the study’s designer, Caitlin Ryan, said: “It’s the role of schools to socialize and prepare students to participate in society, make lasting contributions and to have careers. We have a responsibility, when we know what works, to create safe environments for all students.” This is excellent to keep in mind, especially as a lot of high school bullying is preventable so long as the adults responsible for the welfare of students are willing to confront it and work to promote tolerance.