Addressing sexual orientation and gender identity harassment in schools through community building

Katherine Gray Asplund, California State University, Monterey Bay

Capstone Project (B.A.) Liberal Studies Department


On a daily basis, in schools across the country, numerous students are subjected to verbal and physical harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Compounding this issue is the fact that much of this harassment is ignored or minimized by fellow students, teachers, and administrators. The author chose to address this issue at the local level, working with members of the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill to help them increase their visibility and accessibility, thereby developing a safer and more supportive campus environment for all students, particularly those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. The project involved working weekly with GSA members and the faculty advisor to develop a website for the club. Through the website, the GSA will be able to post upcoming events, links to local LGBTQ resources, and meeting information, strengthening their presence on campus. The web site created also includes other features that will allow the GSA club to evaluate their outreach, such as a blog where members and site visitors may post comments, a stats feature where website traffic can be monitored and a polls feature where opinion polls may be created to assess the safety and supportiveness of their campus environment.