Working with youth on LGBT issues: why Gay–Straight Alliance advisors become involved



This phenomenological qualitative study explores motivation for citizen participation in a local context by exploring the experiences of Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club advisors from public high schools. Fourteen advisors from one midwestern state were randomly recruited for participation. Inductive and deductive qualitative analyses elucidated themes and subthemes surrounding the motivation for becoming an advisor. Two major themes that emerged were a protective attitude toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, a personal connection with sexual minority people/issues. It became clear that deciding to become a GSA advisor was not necessarily an easy decision. Therefore, the decision-making process was analyzed, elucidating themes surrounding worries (possible lack of credibility, fear of job loss, and being accused of recruiting youth to the ‘gay lifestyle’) and security (tenure or protections against being fired, and being married). Limitations and implications for future research and practice are discussed. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.