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ERIC Number: EJ1123960
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0148-432X
Coming out in High School: How One Gay-Straight Alliance Supports Students
Rizga, Kristina
American Educator, v40 n4 p15-19 Win 2016-2017
In this article the author describes how Pablo, a senior at Mission High School (San Francisco, California), performs in the schools' annual Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) drag show. The drag show is a homegrown expression created by students of the school, featuring student- and teacher-choreographed dances, student and teacher "coming out" speeches, short educational videos on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning) issues, and the popular "fashion show," in which teachers, administrators, security guards, and students appear dressed in drag. Even though Mission High School sponsors the annual drag show, this article demonstrates how LGBTQ students still face challenges there. Pablo faced discrimination and social isolation following his performance in the drag show, eventually causing his attendance and grades to plummet. One of Pablo's teachers connects him with a case manager at a local LGBTQ youth community center and educational organization called LYRIC where he found a group of like-minded people who were dealing with similar issues. The article describes how Pablo built up his self confidence, became vice president of Mission's GSA and proposed more homegrown activities designed by students and more events that celebrated queer culture rather than focusing on its repression. He later performed in his third and final drag show--the most popular event at Mission among students that year. Educators at Mission agree that the success of any antibullying initiative depends on the degree of student ownership of the strategies for solutions. A GSA club, a drag show, or any other antibullying strategy that is superimposed by adults without genuine leadership and engagement by the students will not work. Another thing that wouldn't work, Pablo adds, is expecting that one club, like a GSA, can by itself change the entire school culture. [This article is excerpted from "Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph" by Kristina Rizga (2015).]
American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California (San Francisco)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A