Gay-straight alliances (GSA) in high schools are meant to counteract homophobia and transphobia and provide LGBTQ youth with a safe environment to express their sexual or gender orientation. Limited attention, however, has been given to transgender youth and their experiences in a GSA. To address this deficiency, a qualitative interview approach with 11 participants was used. Through inductive analysis, four major themes emerged: (1) need for safe spaces; (2) developing a GSA; (3) aspects of a safe space; and (4) membership and transgenderism in GSAs. Although findings support the notion that there is a need for LGBTQ safe spaces in high schools, transgender participants expressed feelings of exclusion and marginalization in these clubs. Therefore, using transgender theory and a peacemaking criminological approach, recommendations for fostering inclusive environments, with a specific emphasis on transgender individuals, are presented and discussed.
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Thesis advisor: Burtch, Brian
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