Offsetting Risks: High School Gay-Straight Alliances and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth

Nicholas C. Heck, Annesa Flentje, Bryan N. Cochran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations

Abstract

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are at risk for engaging in negative health behaviors and for experiencing at-school victimization. Specific benefits of attending a high school with a gay-straight alliance (GSA), including lower levels of suicidality, have been published; however, it is unclear whether GSAs are related to lower levels of problematic substance use, depressive symptoms, and psychological distress. Using a sample of 145 LGBT youth recruited from college and university organizations for LGBT students, we examined whether attending a high school with a GSA was related to more positive school experiences and mental health outcomes for LGBT youth. The results indicate that youth who attended a high school with a GSA report significantly more favorable outcomes related to school experiences, alcohol use, and psychological distress. The implications of the findings are discussed as they relate to school psychologists. Important limitations of this study are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-174
Number of pages14
JournalSchool Psychology Quarterly
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Gay-straight alliance
  • High school
  • LGBT
  • Sexual minority youth

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