The study, published in the current issue of Applied Developmental Science, claims to be the first to show that participation in a school-based group which promotes solidarity between straight and LGBT students correlates with long-term benefits.
The report, titled High School GSAs and Young Adult Well-Being, is based on data from a Family Acceptance Project’s survey, which examined the school-related experiences of 245 LGBT young adults, aged 21 to 25.
The study said the impact of GSAs was particularly beneficial when they were seen to be effective in promoting a safer school environment.
The authors suggest schools implement other facilities in addition to GSAs, such as anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies, and teacher training on how to intervene in cases harassment.
Co-author Russell Toomey said: “Given the recent attention to tragic deaths by suicide related to anti-LGBT school bullying over the past year, our research documents that having Gay-Straight Alliances in schools is an important way to boost mental health and academic achievement for LGBT young people.
“However, Gay-Straight Alliances should not be perceived as the only vehicle for creating safer school climates for students – clearly, our findings document that other LGBT-positive supports need to be implemented in schools for LGBT students to thrive.”
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