Safe Spaces: Gay-Straight Alliances in High Schools Academic Article uri icon

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  • In activists' circles as in sociology, the concept "safe space" has been applied to all sorts of programs, organizations, and practices. Few studies have specified clearly what safe spaces are and how they support the people who occupy them. We examine one social location typically understood to be a safe space: gay-straight alliance groups in high schools. Using qualitative interviews with young adults in the United States and Canada who have participated in gay-straight alliances, we unpack this complex concept to consider some of the dimensions along which safe spaces might vary. Based on interviews with participants, we derive three interrelated dimensions of safe space: social context, membership, and activity.


  • Fetner, Tina
  • Elafros, Athena
  • Bortolin, Sandra
  • Drechsler, Coralee

publication date

  • May 2012