Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 205–225 | Cite as

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

  • Amie LevesqueEmail author


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.


Youth Gender Sexuality Schools Gay-straight alliances 



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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019
corrected publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of DenverDepartment of Sociology and CriminologyDenverUSA

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