Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Group Differences

I read the article "Gay-Straight Alliances and school experiences of Sexual Minority Youth." The article was about sexual minority's three experiences they have in school: victimization, isolation, and campus climate. These students are often neglected and abused physically or emotionally by family members, or even their peers at school. They also feel isolated because they don't have anyone to go to for support and have trouble creating new relationships. Finally, they campus climate highly affects their academics and personal lives.They experience a "hostile" environment which increases the likelihood of skipping classes. All of these experiences make school seem like an unsafe place and also are associated with sexual minority youth's plans to not continue their education after high school. One way to make schools more welcoming for sexual minority youth is to adopt "Gay-Straight Alliances." These are student led clubs open to youth of all sexual orientations with the purpose of supporting sexual minority students and their heterosexual allies and also reducing prejudice, discrimination, and harassment within the school. GSA's can be found in both high school and colleges. A survey found that GSA's in schools: provide information about topics such as coming out, connecting with supportive faculty and staff, finding staff mentors, or assisting youth to develop coping strategies for living in a frequently hostile world. GSA's also increased a sense of identification for sexual minority students in their schools. The students felt much safer at school, had support for sexual minority staff, and were more interested in attending school and coursework. 

Overall, I didn't find this article to be too surprising. Although I did not know that there were such things as GSA's, it would seem that any club or organization for minorities would make school seem like a safer and more welcoming environment. These are fairly new clubs, and as the article questioned, I also wonder how open students are to their membership in the club. I feel like it would take a while for students to get comfortable within the club, before coming out or admitting to being in a sexual minority group. I think these types of organizations are a great resource for students who are struggling in school. I hope to be a source of support for all of my students, and hope that I could make an positive impact on these students as well. 

Some things I did find interesting: In a sample of sexual minority students, 74% of participants believed that their school campus was "homophobic." In another group, students in their first year of college believed that their colleges would be better off if only heterosexuals attended them. It is important to make every student feel accepted at school. Some students get involved with Greek life, others with SGA or religious groups, but these students also need a safe place to go, such as GSA's. Hopefully word spreads about this club and more college campuses can adopt them. On the other hand, EVERY student must take initiative on how they are involved and perceived. If they want to make a change, they take initiative and be a an active part of that change. 

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