The Substance and Circumstances of Race and Immigration Talk in High School Gender and Sexuality Alliances

Jerel P. Calzo, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, V. Paul Poteat, Talia Kieu, Amanda Pham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender & Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) are school-based clubs that support youth of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. As identity-centered spaces, GSAs could also foster discussions related to race and immigration (i.e., race and immigration talk). We conducted semi-structured interviews from 2016 to 2018 with 38 GSA members (ages 13–20 years old) of diverse racial/ethnic, immigrant-origin (first and second generations in the United States born of immigrant parents), sexual orientation, and gender identities. Race and immigration talk often occurred when discussing current events (e.g., the 2016 US Presidential Election). Students reported that race and immigration talk depended on representation (i.e., GSA demographics), if it was deemed personally relevant to members, and whether students perceived issues of race and immigration as part of the agenda of the GSA. Some students indicated motivation to discuss racism and nativism yet refrained from doing so due to discomfort or fear of misspeaking. Overall, youth primarily viewed the GSA as a space for LGBTQIA+-oriented discussions and support yet expressed potential for fostering productive race and immigration talk in GSAs given the ongoing US sociopolitical climate. Discussions facilitated by advisors focusing on inter-connected oppression (e.g., intersections of racism and heterosexism) and that leverage brave space discussion dynamics may help students develop competencies to engage in race and immigration talk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-370
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Dialogue
  • Extracurricular groups
  • Immigration
  • Intersectionality
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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