(GSAs) IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Why some people favor them and other oppose them
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are student-initiated and student-run
non-curricular clubs found in many public high schools. Their main purposes are
typically to educate fellow student about minority sexual orientations, to
oppose discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals, to provide mutual
support, and to educate
students about safer sex practices. The federal Equal
Access law in the U.S. requires schools to either permit all student clubs
-- including GSAs -- or to authorize no clubs at all.
Because people have different fundamental beliefs about the nature of
homosexuality and bisexuality, they come to very different conclusions about the
advisability of having GSAs in high schools. Some view them as a threat; others
as a helpful function. This essay explores these different conclusions.
Fundamental preconceptions about homosexuality:
North American culture
remains divided between two mutually exclusive belief
systems concerning sexual orientation. We repeat below a chart contrasting
the beliefs of religious conservatives with other social and religious
groups. It shows the fundamental beliefs about homosexuality that lie at the
heart of most -- perhaps all -- conflicts involving sexual orientation. Any
useful debate or dialogue must address these differences first if any
progress is to be made.
Most religious conservatives believe:
|Religious liberals, the mental and physical health community,
gays, lesbians, bisexuals, human sexuality researchers, geneticists, and others generally believe that:
|"Homosexuality" is something that you do.
||"Homosexuality" is something that you are.
|"Homosexuality" is a lifestyle.
||"Homosexuality" is a sexual orientation.
|A person chooses whether to become homosexual or heterosexual sometime after puberty.
||A person's sexual orientation is determined for them, before school age.
It is not chosen.
|Any adult who is attracted only to members of the same gender can become heterosexual through
prayer and reparative therapy.
||A person cannot change their sexual
orientation. Reparative therapy is ineffective and
harmful. Its success rate is almost
|A heterosexual person can be "recruited" into homosexuality.
||People cannot be recruited into a different orientation.
|God hates homosexual behavior.
||The Bible is silent about consensual, loving homosexual relationships.
|Homosexuality is neither natural nor normal.
||Homosexuality is a natural, normal sexual orientation for a minority
Different beliefs about GSAs:
We found a report on the Mission: America web site to be very helpful
in the preparation of this essay:
Typical beliefs of persons opposed to GSAs
|Typical beliefs of persons who favor GSAs:
|GSAs will make homosexual behavior more acceptable to
students. This cause more students to engage in same-sex behaviors. This
will lead to more transmission of STDs and even to death.
||GSAs will probably lessen hatred of gays and lesbians.
However, nobody chooses their sexual orientation. GSAs will teach their
members of the dangers of unprotected sex and thus lead to a lessening
of STD transmission.
|Why fund a sexual health education program if GSAs are
going to short-circuit that effort by encouraging dangerous sexual
||GSAs are part of a comprehensive sexual health program.
One of the functions of a GSA is to educate its members about safer
|GSAs bring gay and lesbian teens together in a social
setting. This will increase dangerous sexual activity.
||Some friendships will form among GSA members. Some may
become sexually active. However, the strong educational message of GSAs
will make any sexual activity safer. "GSAs are about
nondiscrimination and safety, not sex." 1
|GSAs foster a "climate of tension and division"
in the school. 2
||Bigotry leading to gay bashing and other forms of
homophobia already exist in schools. GSAs attempt to combat such
attitudes with education, thus lowering tension and division. A
Massachusetts study showed that schools with GSAs had a more positive
climate and fewer slurs and harassment. 1
|GSAs intrude on freedom of religion, by promoting the
belief that homosexuality is OK.
||GSAs have nothing to do with religion. However, they do
oppose hatred and homophobia which are often caused by religious
|"What about privacy rights-like, the right of
straight students not to be openly ogled in the shower after gym class?"
||If this is a problem at a school, then a GSA is an
excellent forum to solve the problem by helping develop new school
|The rights of straight students to disapprove of
homosexuality will be infringed.
||GSAs concentrate their efforts on reducing the level of
gay bashing, name calling, ridiculing, and similar attacks on gays and
lesbians. Students who disapprove of a sexual orientation are welcome to
maintain their beliefs, as long as they don't engage in activities which
|Intolerance and animosity by gays towards straights will
||The goal of a GSA is to reduce intolerance and animosity
towards persons of all sexual orientations.
|GSAs will reduce the effectiveness of abstinence
||GSAs generally support abstinence for those who wish to
remain sexually inactive, and safer sexual practices for those who wish
to become sexually active.
|GSAs encourage homosexuality which places gay teens at a
higher risk for depression, alcohol and other drug abuse, suicide, etc.
||Depression and other problems are higher in the gay
community. But it is not because of their sexual orientation. It is
caused by society's homophobia and discrimination. GSAs help combat the
|"When teens have homosexual desire, it is a symptom,
not an identity." 2 Symptoms need to be treated.
GSAs promote the belief that homosexuality is an identity.
||Homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual orientations are
part of one's identity; they are not symptoms. All three are normal and
natural. GSAs promote these beliefs.
|GSAs are a training ground leading to homosexual
activism and political action after graduation.
||The same thing can be said of Bible study clubs. The
Equal Access law guarantees that students can
organize both GSAs and Bible clubs.
Carolyn Laub, "View gay-straight alliance clubs as partners,"
Safe Schools Coalition, at:
http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org/ You need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:
"Fighting the 'gay' agenda in schools: Homosexual clubs: The rest
of the story," Mission: America, 2000-Spring, at:
Jim Brown and Allie Martin, "ACLU, Kentucky District Square Off
on Issue of GSA Clubs in Schools," American Family Association,
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2003-APR-2
Latest update: 2003-APR-2
Author: B.A. Robinson