Holding Space: A Case Study of an Alternative High School's Gender and Sexuality Alliance
AuthorClough, Lauren Taylor
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractGender and sexuality alliances (GSAs), clubs aimed at supporting and affirming LGBTQIA+ youth within the school setting, can serve a wide variety of purposes for queer and trans youth. GSAs can provide a community of belonging or even act as sites of youth activism within their school and beyond. The present case study takes an ethnographic approach to examining one alternative high school’s GSA during the midst of a tumultuous change in school ownership and school leadership. Through observations of the GSA and the school at large, changes in school culture are examined across the span of two years. During Year One, the school was fostering a familial culture of support, providing the many under-supported students at the school with necessary resources such as food, transportation, and counseling. During Year Two, the change in school ownership began to impact the school culture, leading into a culture of anonymity and apathy in which these previously assumed resources were no longer available to students. Using the GSA as an anchor to ground the study, I explore how the shifts within the GSA are reflected in the changes within the school at large. The concept of holding space became a central theme related to the school culture and the physical and figurative spaces within the GSA and school are discussed. Lastly, implications for research on school culture and LGBTQIA+ students are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College