Each week, our research team completes two to three readings relating to the experiences of LGBTQ families in public schools, which we then discuss as a group and use to provide us with more information that will better our research. This past week we read two articles that discussed the role that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) play in public schools. There is some contestation about how GSAs further perpetuate racial segregation as well as the normalization of whiteness, as the majority of students who attend GSA meetings are not ethnically diverse. As a second year undergraduate student, who only recently left high school, I found this take on GSAs very interesting. I never attended GSA meetings at my school, but my impression of the club was that it was an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming environment for all students. After the readings this week, I reflected on my impressions of my high school GSA and realized that it too could be contested for being mostly comprised of Caucasian students, as well as carrying a stigma along with it that could be unappealing and threatening to many LGBTQ students.
On the other hand, although GSAs can be contested, they also do a lot of good for their LGBTQ students that are involved. For example, a Colorado based organization hosted a LGBTQ/GSA leadership conference in October, which not only empowered the students, but also provided them with the materials and support to run for elected positions to make change in their communities.
These two very different views on GSAs forced me to contemplate my own views on the matter. I was offered two very different opinions on the effects of GSAs in public schools that contradicted my past impressions of the club. As I progress further in to this research project, I anticipate that many of my opinions will be challenged, and I look forward to that happening.
For further reading
Garcia, N. (2014, October 1). At LGBT conference, a push for student leadership.
Lance Trevor McCready (2003): Some Challenges Facing Queer Youth Programs in Urban High Schools, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education, 1:3, 37-51
Quinn, T. (2007). "You Make Me Erect!": Queer Girls of Color Negotiating Heteronormative Leadership at an Urban All-Girls Public School. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues In Education, 4(3), 31-47.