Allies in Diversity: Why Start an Allies Program?

Allies facultyStarting an Allies in Diversity program at your school would positively impact school culture by boosting pro-social attitudes toward others, increasing pro-social beliefs about diversity and difference, building pro-social skills, and encouraging pro-social behavior. Studies show that diverse groups of youth, particularly those with GSD, are at increased risk for bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, and other high-risk behaviors. All youth deserve to feel safe in their schools and are more likely to succeed academically and in their communities if their social emotional well-being is supported by a positive and accepting school climate.

Why Must GSD be Addressed?

LGBTQ students are at disproportionate risk for bullying, name-calling, harassment, isolation, and physical assault. Research indicates that schools are often hostile environments for students who are gay, gender-nonconforming, or perceived to be gay.

According to a 2009 survey conducted in Colorado:

  • 87 percent of GSD students were verbally harassed in school because of their sexual orientation.
  • 90 percent of GSD students regularly heard homophobic remarks or language such as “gay,” “fag,” or “dyke.”
  • 40 percent of GSD students were physically harassed.
  • 33 percent were physically assaulted — punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon — because of their sexual orientation.
  • 89 percent of GSD students felt deliberately excluded by their peers.
  • 86 percent of GSD students had mean rumors or lies told about them.
  • 30 percent of GSD students missed at least one school day per month because they were afraid to attend.

Schools with high rates of bullying of GSD students are far more likely to have high incidences of bullying toward non-GSD students. The two are inextricably connected.

What Do Kids Say about How Being an Ally has Helped Them?

“Allies has helped me as a person because I know how to handle bullying if I see it happening.”

“Allies has helped me to learn various perspectives of the world and become a better person.”

“Allies has helped me appreciate the people who stand up for others.”

“Because of Allies, I now see people as themselves.”

“You don’t need to be an expert on any of this. Be open to learning and saying, ‘I don’t know. Maybe we need to go find that out.”

–Barb Miller
Librarian, Manhattan Middle School

“We have seen an enormous shift in students’ understanding of pro-social attitude and also in their interest in understanding empathy and taking action within your community.”

–Tracie Faust
Allies facilitator, AXL Academy

Pro-social: A social behavior that benefits other people or society as a whole, such as helping, sharing, donating, cooperating, and volunteering.


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