Wow! You know the world has changed when there are more than 500 gay-straight alliances existing in middle schools to protect teens against homophobia and bullying. Tolerance.org has an article by Carrie Kilman that was really interesting. Her article references the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that collects data about the treatment of LGBTQ students in schools every two years.
The results from the 2005 survey suggest that 64% of middle school students report anti-gay bullying and name calling as major problems in their schools. Gay-straiaght alliances directly address this problem by creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth and organizing campus wide events to increase tolerance for all marginalized groups and reduce anti-gay bullying. Two common vents are No Name Calling Week and the National Day of Silence.
Middle school has got to be the hardest time, socially, for most kids, and LGBTQ kids are always targets for bullies, so gay-straight alliances make perfect sense, but the fact that teens in 6th-8th grade are "out," is new, and suggests that our society, at least in some places, is becoming more tolerant, and that our teens at least are more comfortable talking about sexual orientation.