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Study: Students at Schools with GSAs Have Long-Term Benefits

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A new study has found that students who attend middle or high schools with a Gay Straight Alliance are more likely to have higher levels of self-esteem and to attend college.

The Family Acceptance Project examined the school-related experiences of 245 LGBT young adults between the ages of 21 and 25. The survey–’High School GSAs and Young Adult Well-Being’–is considered to be the FIRST to show how participating in the LGBT-inclusive clubs can produce long-term physical, mental and academic benefits.

Family Acceptance Project Director Dr. Caitlin Ryan tells OutQ News that students feel GSAs are especially beneficial when they promote a safer school environment. Earlier research has shown that many LGBT youth are constantly bullied and harassed on campus because of their sexual orientation.

In fact, students at Flour Bluff High School in Texas were initally prohibited from starting a GSA, despite the fact that such extracurricular groups are federally-protected. And a Tennessee student was allegedly assaulted by his principal for wearing a T-shirt supporting his school’s GSA.

Dr. Ryan says these incidents further prove that victimization is the underlying issue and GSAs are a part of the solution.

RYAN: And when a school climate is more supportive, students do better, they feel better, they have higher grades, and clearly their later lives are much more satisfying and productive as well.

In addition to forming GSAs, Ryan is also suggesting that schools include gay-friendly curriculum, implement anti-discrimination policies, and offer LGBT competency training for personnel.

The findings are published in the journal Applied Developmental Science.

Written by Xorje Olivares

November 16, 2011 at 7:45 AM

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