The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3212.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 1:15 PM

Abstract #57866

Youth helping youth: Students creating safe schools for LGBT youth

Jennifer E. Schindel, PhD candidate, School of Education, Stanford University, 485 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-3096, 650-723-2109,

This paper explores how youth involved in Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs are using collective action, outreach, and education to provide safer climates in schools for LGBT students. Using individual and group interview data from an ongoing ethnography of a highly networked group of youth in the Bay Area, I examine how GSA’s operate as a space for youth to initiate dialogue and action in their schools and local communities. Students involved in school-based Gay-Straight Alliance clubs comprise an active community of adolescent youth initiating a dialogue of change, in which they are explicitly working to negotiate and redefine categorizations of sexual and gender identity. This was seen most clearly with the passing of AB 537: the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 which changed the Education Code to add actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy. While GSA’s have been instrumental in collective political action, they also operate as local sites of change, attending to particular issues of LGBT youth in schools. This may take the form of outreach in the school community, enforcing AB 547, as well as action against homophobic slurs against individuals. This paper examines ways in which youth involved in GSA’s work to educate and provide a safe school environment for LGBT youth.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Youth, Community Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: none
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Inclusive Curricula, School Safety, and LGBT Students

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA