High school is a weird time for everyone. Between stressing about back to school style, juggling classwork and navigating the tricky world of making friends, it’s safe to say it isn’t exactly a simple time. But one of the best ways to make high school a lot more fun and a lot less isolating is to get involved in extracurriculars. So if you’ve been thinking of starting a club at your school, we’ve got the perfect suggestion for you: a gay-straight alliance.
Not only could it be a great way to meet new friends and do cool things together, but a GSA could actually save lives. You read that right. A new study out of the University of British Columbia found that at schools with GSA clubs, suicides among gay and straight students are lower overall.
“We know that LGBTQ students are at higher risk for suicide, in part because they are more often targeted for bullying and discrimination,” said Elizabeth Saewyc, lead author of the study and professor with the UBC School of Nursing, in a release. “But heterosexual students can also be the target of homophobic bullying. When policies and supportive programs like GSAs are in place long enough to change the environment of the school, it’s better for students’ mental health, no matter what their orientation.”
The researchers looked at data from more than 20,000 high schools and found that in schools where a GSA had been active for more than three years, “the odds of homophobic discrimination and suicidal thoughts were reduced by more than half among lesbian, gay, bisexual boys and girls compared to schools with no GSA.” And the rate of suicide attempts among heterosexual boys was halved as well. Woah!
We know in general that more inclusion, empathy and understanding are making the world a safer place for everyone, but it’s even more powerful to see statistical proof.
Did your high school have a GSA? Tweet us about it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)