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|Title:||School Climate and Gay-Straight Alliances: Sexual Minorities in High School|
|Authors:||Bortolin, Sandra J.|
|Keywords:||Gay-Straight Alliances;Sexual Minority Youth;High School Climate;Bullying;Status Hierarchies;Social Networks;Educational Sociology;Gender and Sexuality;Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies;Educational Sociology|
|Abstract:||<p>Although liberal attitudes toward homosexuality have been increasing in recent years, sexual minority youth continue to face bullying and isolation at school. Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) have recently emerged as a solution to this problem. While research demonstrates positive effects of GSAs, little is known about the specific processes through which GSAs work to improve the school climate. We must also consider that GSAs operate in high schools which function as their own bounded social worlds with unique sets of rules and social hierarchies. These hierarchies influence both gay and straight youth’s experiences, including who gets bullied, and who carries out the bullying. Using qualitative research methods, including semi-structured interviews with 50 students from 6 Windsor high schools, including 21 lesbian, gay, bisexual, bi-curious, pansexual and queer (LGBPQ) youth, this study explores these issues. I begin by examining how status hierarchies in high schools vary based on the size of the school and average parental income. In doing so, I argue that status hierarchies should be re-conceptualized from being thought of as simply vertical to accommodate multiple sources of status and varying competition. I then delve into an examination of how status and bullying are interconnected. Here, I find that for both gay and straight students, social networks work to prevent isolation as well as bullying. Bullying in high schools also takes on a situational nature, as bullying episodes often predominate in certain areas and in front of certain status group audiences. Finally, I explore how social networks intersect with gay-straight alliances in various social hierarchies, and how GSAs work as social networks that have a protective ability against bullying. I find that GSAs can work to improve school climate and challenge existing hierarchies, but this is tempered by the hierarchies in place. Implications for anti-bullying strategies are also discussed.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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