Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Gay Straight Alliances: A Case Study of Member Perceptions of Support at an International School
by Pearson, Robin Foster, Ed.D., University of Southern California, 2018, 118; 10845466
Abstract (Summary)

Schools present unique opportunities to foster and improve belonging for all students. Meaningful inclusion requires visible and equal representation as well as safe environments (Cerezo and Bergfield, 2013; Sadowski, 2016). Students who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) deserve equal attention in educational models which seek to be inclusive and acknowledge diverse student populations in schools. Key studies from the United States indicate there is much to be done, suggesting LBGTQ students often do not feel safe or visible in schools (Kosciw, Greytak, Giga, Villenas & Danischewski, 2016). School-based resources, however, such as student-led clubs known as Gay-Straight Alliances, are helping to address the needs of LGBTQ students. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of a group of LGBTQ students who attend an international school in Asia and who are all regular members of a Gay-Straight Alliance. It aimed to gain a better understanding of their school experience in terms of support systems and structures through the unique lens of an international school. A qualitative research design was implemented through the use of semi-structured interviews with four participants, who voluntarily took part in the study. Seven themes emerged from the study, (1) formal support systems are perceived to be secondary to peer support, (2) less formal support services such as friends and peers carry a higher level of trust, (3) the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is the primary, most visible, safe space, (4) outreach beyond the GSA is limited, (5) existing barriers prohibit inclusive practices for LGBTQ students, (6) LGBTQ educational programs would help raise awareness, and (7) There is a need to create and implement school policies, which are more inclusive and will better protect LGBTQ students at the school. Implications of this study entail specialized training for counselors, outreach beyond the confines of the GSA, inclusive policies and targeted LGBTQ educational programs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chung, Ruth
Commitee: Andres, Mary, Picus, Lawrence
School: University of Southern California
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: LGBTQ studies, Education
Keywords: Gay-straight alliances, International schools, LGBTQ, Student perceptions
Publication Number: 10845466
ISBN: 9780438575691
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