In a time of unprecedented polarization in the United States, particularly concerning immigration, schools are uniquely positioned to help students understand the consequences of drastic policy changes. Beyond formal settings such as social studies classes, extracurricular activities may be important for fostering discussions about sociohistorical and policy issues. Such discussions could serve to empower youth from marginalized populations and raise their critical consciousness. Yet the potential outcomes of discussions in these extracurricular settings have not been studied in depth. Using data collected in school-based Gender-and-Sexuality-Alliances (GSAs) throughout Massachusetts during the periods leading up to and following the 2016 US Presidential election, we examined whether discussions of immigration issues in GSAs were associated with greater empowerment and critical consciousness among 580 youth (MAge = 15.59, range = 10–20 years). Multilevel structural equation models showed that the frequency with which youth discussed immigration, relative to their fellow members, was positively associated with residualized change in perceived peer validation for members in general and with residualized change in hope for immigrant-origin members only. Contrary to our expectations, we did not find significant associations for critical consciousness. Findings suggest how groups addressing issues of equity and justice can promote members' empowerment.
- Gender and Sexuality Alliance clubs
- and queer (LGBTQ) youth
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology