“I’ve Always Wanted a Gay Family Member!”: Straight Ally Girls and Gender Inequality in a High School Gay-Straight Alliance

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 06 March 2019

This article has been updated

Abstract

Research on high school Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) focuses on these clubs as safe spaces for students of all sexual and gender orientations to gather, arguing that GSAs are usually associated with less hostile school climates. Less studied are the interactions among students in GSAs and the ways gender and sexuality intersect in this context. This ethnographic study bridges this gap, examining inequality along lines of gender and sexual identity. Findings show that straight girls are given a voice in the GSA, applauded for their support, and immune from critique of their ally work, however, some lesbian, bisexual, and queer-identifying (LBQ) girls are disenchanted with straight girls’ participation. Some LBQ girls remain silent critics of their high school’s GSA, or abandon it completely. This research suggests that within GSAs, the unconditional inclusion of straight allies may be reproducing the very inequalities such groups exist to dismantle.

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  • 06 March 2019

    The original version of this article contained several mistakes.

Notes

  1. 1.

    Identifies according to the gender they were assigned at birth

  2. 2.

    Students who defined their sexuality as pansexual stated that they did not consider gender when they chose a partner. Instead, Callie, who identified as pansexual, stated, “[pansexual means] liking people of all genders. There’s this one person I’m with that doesn’t identify as cisgender and doesn’t identify with their sex.”

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Acknowledgements

This article has benefited greatly from the kindness of Tristan Bridges, Hava Gordon, Jennifer Reich, Alan Klein, Lisa Pasko, Alison Walton, and the anonymous reviewers who offered constructive feedback on this article. Please accept my gratitude for your valuable time and advice.

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Correspondence to Amie Levesque.

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The original version of this article was revised: Due to technical problems at the typesetter, author's last edits were not carried out.

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Levesque, A. “I’ve Always Wanted a Gay Family Member!”: Straight Ally Girls and Gender Inequality in a High School Gay-Straight Alliance. Qual Sociol 42, 205–225 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-019-9411-9

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Keywords

  • Youth
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Schools
  • Gay-straight alliances