Gay-Straight Alliance involvement and youths’ participation in civic engagement, advocacy, and awareness-raising

V. Paul Poteat, Jerel P. Calzo, Hirokazu Yoshikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Civic engagement among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth and heterosexual cisgender allies can challenge oppressive systems. Among 295 youth in 33 Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs; 69% LGBQ, 68% cisgender female, 68% white, Mage = 16.07), we examined whether greater GSA involvement was associated with greater general civic engagement, as well as participation in greater LGBTQ-specific advocacy and awareness-raising efforts. Further, we tested whether these associations were partly mediated through members’ sense of agency. Greater GSA involvement was associated with greater civic engagement, advocacy, and awareness-raising; associations did not differ based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Finally, the association between GSA involvement and civic engagement was partially mediated through youths’ greater sense of agency. Agency did not mediate the association between GSA involvement and engagement in advocacy or awareness-raising efforts. The results suggest GSAs are settings with potential to foster students’ capacity to be active and engaged citizens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018



  • Agency
  • Civic engagement
  • Gay-Straight Alliance
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning youth
  • Positive youth development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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