Gay-Straight/Genders & Sexualities Alliances

Gay-Straight Alliances or Genders and Sexualities Alliances have been associated with improvements in school safety, a key component of school connectedness, for all students.

Research specifically links the presence of Gay-Straight Alliances or Genders and Sexualities Alliances (GSAs) to greater feelings of school connectedness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) students.

GSAs are also linked to positive youth development and increasing young people’s sense of purpose, self-esteem, and agency. They have also been linked to reduced risk across health outcomes related to HIV and other STDs, including experiencing violence, illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse, and suicidal ideation. Prevention benefits have been documented for heterosexual youth in addition to LGBTQ youth.

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Schools and local education agencies can create and implement a plan for establishing GSAs in schools that do not already have them and strengthening GSAs in schools that do.


  1. Marx RA, Kettrey HH. Gay-Straight alliances are associated with lower levels of school-based victimization of LGBTQ+ youth: a systematic review and meta-analysisexternal icon. J Youth Adolesc. 2016;45(7):1269-1282.
  2. Saewyc EM, Konishi C, Rose HA, Homma Y. School-based strategies to reduce suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and discrimination among sexual minority and heterosexual adolescents in Western Canadaexternal icon. Int J Child Youth Family Stud. 2014;5(1):89-112.
  3. Porta CM, Singer E, Mehus CJ, et al. LGBTQ youth’s views on gay-straight alliances: building community, providing gateways, and representing safety and supportexternal icon. J Sch Health. 2017;87(7):489-497.
  4. Diaz EM, Kosciw JG, Greytak EA. School connectedness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: in-school victimization and institutional supports. Prev Res. 2010;17(3).
  5. Poteat VP, Calzo JP, Yoshikawa H. Promoting youth agency through dimensions of gay-straight alliance involvement and conditions that maximize associationsexternal icon. J Youth Adolesc. 2016;45(7):1438-1451.
  6. Poteat VP, Yoshikawa H, Calzo JP, et al. Contextualizing gay-straight alliances: student, advisor, and structural factors related to positive youth development among membersexternal icon. Child Dev. 2015;86(1):176-193.
  7. Heck NC, Livingston NA, Flentje A, Oost K, Stewart BT, Cochran BN. Reducing risk for illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse: high school gay-straight alliances and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youthexternal icon. Addict Behav. 2014;39(4):824-828.
  8. Coulter RW, Birkett M, Corliss HL, Hatzenbuehler ML, Mustanski B, Stall RD. Associations between LGBTQ-affirmative school climate and adolescent drinking behaviorsexternal icon. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016;161:340-347.