Supporting LGBTQ+ students may be difficult in some areas. Still, it is our job to afford everyone the chance to learn. Here are some ways we can help.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Students at School
For many LGBTQ+ students, school can be a challenging and even dangerous place. LGBTQ+ youth often face harassment, discrimination, and violence, which can negatively impact their mental health, academic performance, and overall well-being.
According to a national survey conducted by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth considering suicide.
Moreover, supporting LGBTQ+ students in school is getting more difficult with recent anti-trans legislation introduced in many states further exacerbates the challenges faced by transgender and nonbinary youth. Therefore, it is crucial for society to take action in supporting LGBTQ+ students in schools.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a while because I think it’s important for educators to have resources ready for students who need support. However, recently, this post has become more personal as one of my students suffered hate and my classroom was vandalized.
Promoting Inclusivity and Fighting Discrimination
Supporting LGBTQ+ students in schools is simpler than most people think. Most LGBTQ+ students just want to exist without discrimination. They aren’t asking for anything other than being left alone.
That being said, most of the time in order to create a neutral space for everyone, we must actively fight discrimination. One way to help is to promote inclusivity. You’ll notice my classroom had the word “g-y” etched in the glass and the window was broken. A while back, a student gave me some Pride flags and I displayed them on the windows in my classroom. My classroom was vandalized on the second week of school.
So How Can We Support LGBTQ+ Students in School?
1. Create a safe and welcoming environment: Schools can create safe and welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ students by adopting policies and practices that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, such as inclusive dress codes, gender-neutral restrooms, and non-discrimination policies. Honestly, I personally have issues with dress codes because they usually disproportionately penalize young girls. Discrimination is never good. It’s the usually lowest form of insult and providing anti-discrimination policies helps everyone.
2. Access to resources and support: Additionally, schools should provide LGBTQ+ students with access to resources and support, such as LGBTQ+ student groups, counseling services, and educational materials that promote understanding and acceptance of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. That’s right. If you provide students with a safe place to discuss their thoughts and emotions, they end up better for it. Supporting LGBTQ+ students is healthy for the entire student body.
3. Allow non-LGBTQ+ students to learn: I keep seeing these regulations around hiding away or lying about gender and orientation. Unfortunately, this does everyone a disservice. Supporting LGBTQ+ students means non-LGBTQ+ students need to be educated. Not sexually explicit material (for those of you assuming), but understanding that people are different. Students should never have to hide who they are. That promotes negative self-talk and fosters discrimination.
Suicide is a major concern for LGBTQ+ youth, and schools can play a critical role in preventing suicide by providing support and resources to at-risk students. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their lives are 40% less likely to attempt suicide.
4. Training for staff: Schools should train staff members to recognize and respond to warning signs of suicide, provide suicide prevention education to students, and connect students with mental health resources when needed.
5. Community Involvement: Schools should also work with community organizations and mental health professionals to provide specialized support to LGBTQ+ youth who are at high risk of suicide. Our school has support groups who meet regularly to discuss their thoughts.
Challenges and Opportunities
Despite the challenges facing LGBTQ+ students in schools, there are also opportunities for progress and change. In recent years, there has been growing awareness and support for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, including among young people. For example, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 72% of American adults under the age of 30 support same-sex marriage.
Similarly, a survey by GLAAD found that 20% of young adults identify as LGBTQ+, the highest percentage ever recorded. These trends suggest that younger generations are more accepting and inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, which bodes well for the future of LGBTQ+ students in schools.
Conclusion: Supporting LGBTQ+ Students
In conclusion, supporting LGBTQ+ students in schools requires a concerted effort from society. By promoting inclusivity, fighting discrimination, and preventing suicide, schools can create safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ youth.
Furthermore, by embracing diversity and promoting understanding and acceptance, we can build a more inclusive and compassionate society for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lastly, I don’t know if I can stress this enough but kids shouldn’t die. Kids shouldn’t worry that they will be mistreated or harmed for being themselves. Kids should only need to come to school and study. Kids have so many things to worry about but school should be safe. FYI – The flags are still up and I display them even more proudly now.
- The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
- GLSEN: https://www.glsen.org/
- The Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/
- National Center for Transgender Equality: https://transequality.org/
- Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/
- GLAAD: https://www.glaad.org/
- ABC News: https://abcnews.go.com/US/christian-school-embraced-lgbtq-community-forced-close-doors/story?id=97037899