Removing Barriers and Establishing Gender and Sexuality Alliances in Schools: A Qualitative Analysis of GSA Advisor Experiences
Current movements within the field of education include a focus on the ability of educators to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ+) students within schools. As LGBTQ+ students are at increased risk for a variety of mental health and lifetime negative factors, it is vital to identify evidence-based supports for these students. School-based extra-curricular organizations such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) have been found among the literature to increase positive educational outcomes for all students and serve as a protective factor for LGBTQ+ students who face these increased risks by virtue of their identities. However, current studies indicate a low rate of successful implementation of these clubs and limited access to clubs for students who have had existing clubs within these schools. To date, only one study has sought to identify relevant barriers and facilitative factors related to adoption and installation of these clubs within schools.
The current study examined the reported barriers and facilitative factors to GSA implementation in middle and high schools through semi-structured interviews with ten GSA advisors. Transcriptions of interviews were analyzed through deductive thematic analysis and results indicated seven themes among advisors’ experiences of factors that influenced their ability to implement. The seven themes included: Knowledge, Skills, Impact, Environmental Factors, Advisor Identity, Emotions, and Social Factors. Barriers and facilitators were not differentiated by theme but some subthemes were exclusively reported as barriers or facilitators. Notable barriers included fear of backlash, administrative and staff turnover, and conservative or religious local communities. Notable facilitators included knowledge of relevant legislation, support of an official co-advisor for the club, and school staff support of club events. Findings of the current study have implications for implementation in leveraging supportive variables and in preparing for barriers to implementation. Future research should examine key components of implementation that produce the most beneficial effects for students.
Date of Degree
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Humanities and Social Sciences
Keller, M. L. (2023). Removing barriers and establishing gender and sexuality alliances in schools: A qualitative analysis of GSA advisor experiences [Doctoral dissertation, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1305/