Benefits for immigrant-origin and nonimmigrant-origin youth of discussing immigration in gender and sexuality alliances

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Abstract:

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 USA 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. Alternate abstract: Practitioner Points: Leading up to and following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, schools have been a setting in which bias-based harassment and discrimination have increased.There is a need for spaces in schools where conversations about diversity can be sustained with mutual trust and support among peers, especially given the polarizing nature of discourse around immigration and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals more broadly in society.Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) can serve as a place for dialogue to support youth to engage with one another on urgent civic issues and promote their feelings of empowerment. When they discuss immigration issues in GSAs more often, members, in general, feel more validated by their peers, and immigrant-origin members feel more hopeful.

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Citation:

Rosenbach, S. B., Sherwood, S. H., Poteat, V. P., Yoshikawa, H., & Calzo, J. P. (2022). Benefits for immigrant‐origin and nonimmigrant‐origin youth of discussing immigration in gender and sexuality alliances. Psychology in the Schools, 59(1), 152-180.

About This Study:

Intervention(s): Discussion of immigration issues in GSAs
Intervention Duration: 9-10 months
Relevant ORR Program: Children's Services, Refugee School Impact Program, Youth Mentoring
Study Type: Suggestive evidence
Full Text Availability: Free
Direction of Evidence: Positive impact
Strength of Evidence: Suggestive
Population(s): Immigrants
Gender(s) of Participants: All
Age(s) of Participants: Adolescents and/or Youth

Relevant Evidence Summaries:

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: