Supporting LGBTQ Youth
Supporting LGBTQ Youth
LGTBQ students face unique challenges in our schools. They are more likely to face bullying and harassment leading to poor grades, higher dropout rates and homelessness. Safe and affirming schools are a core element of student success.
5 Things Educators Are Doing to Support LGBTQ Rights Now
Educators are on the leading edge of campaigns, initiatives and legislative efforts to create safe and affirming schools and support LGBTQ student rights.
Take Action ›
Now here’s what you can do: Join educators around the country in signing our pledge to stand up against hate and bias.
SIGN THE PLEDGE ›
Below are links to summaries of some of the myriad ways educators are standing with LGBTQ students, and working to ensure they feel supported and welcome in our schools and communities.
- Fostering Safe and Affirming Schools for All Students
- Helping to Shape LGBTQ-inclusive Curriculum and Textbooks
- Training Other Educators to Raise their Voices for LGBTQ Students
- Backing Legislation That Supports LGBTQ Students’ Rights
- Supporting School Naming Initiatives That Honor Legacies of LGBTQ Activists & Leaders
School Climate Surveys Help Schools Develop LGBTQ Policies
With hate crimes on the rise across the country since Election Day 2016, the collective data from a decade of National School Climate Surveys has allowed LGBTQ student voices to be instrumental in guiding educators, administrators and policy makers in shaping LGBTQ policies. By providing a picture of the challenges and opportunities in states, they have also paved the way for state legislation, professional development programs, and school policy guidelines.
“I’ve heard other teachers say, ‘Well, that doesn’t happen here’ and other things to that effect. However, being able to present actual statistics and information from the LGBTQ survey to demonstrate that yes, these things are happening, helps to open people’s eyes to these issues. Not only is the national survey helpful, but the state surveys, which are even more specific, help to really point out the struggles facing the LGBTQ students in the area,” said Sheena Zadai, a teacher at North Ridgeville High School in Ridgeville, Ohio and GSA advisor.Read More
A 2015 survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that “LGBTQ students experience pervasive harassment and discrimination, but school-based supports can make a difference.” The results of GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey will be released in Fall 2018.
- LGBTQ youth speak their truth in new school climate survey
NEAEdJustice.org, June 22 2017
- 2015 National School Climate Survey
Students Mobilize in Support of Transgender Rights Policy
In 2015, the biennial “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drew attention to the alarming number of LGBTQ students who had contemplated and made a plan for suicide. The suicide numbers were even higher for transgender students, although the CDC did not separately survey transgender students.
In Frederick County, Maryland, the survey sparked a student-led movement that resulted in the Frederick County School Board convening a meeting to discuss the issue. A number of transgender students told their stories and shared their experiences. The student movement led to the implementation of the school district’s first-ever comprehensive transgender rights policy — Policy 443: Creating Welcoming and Affirming Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.Read More
- Student-led movement leads to implementation of MD school district’s first-ever comprehensive transgender rights policy
NEAEdJustice.org, October 20,2017
- Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report (2007-2017)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Legal Guidance on Transgender Student Rights
What legal rights do transgender students have?
- The right not to be disciplined or be treated differently because they are transgender or gender non-conforming.
- The right to be treated with respect and not harassed or bullied because they are transgender.
- The right to equal educational opportunities, including the right to use locker rooms and restrooms that are consistent with a student’s gender identity, and to participate equally in athletic or extracurricular activities and other school events.
- The right to transition at school, which means that students have the right to express their transitioned gender.
Which laws protect transgender students?
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
- The Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution
- The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
- The Due Process Clause of the U. S. Constitution
- State and local laws
Read more in NEA’s comprehensive guide: “Legal Guidance on Transgender Students’ Rights.”
Educators Shape LGBTQ-Inclusive Textbooks
With the passage of the California FAIR Education Act in 2011, educators laid the groundwork for an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. In the summer of 2017, NEA members who advocated for the passage of FAIR were among the select group of committee members who reviewed and decided whether publishers made the grade for LGBTQ inclusive content in their textbooks.
“The whole idea was to make sure that LGBTQ kids see themselves in the social science books. People just like them made history. It’s good for them, it’s normalizing and reduces bullying. It’s really good for everyone,” said C. Scott Miller, California Teachers Association (CTA) member and liaison to the Equality California Board.Read More
California is the first and only state to mandate that students be taught about the contributions of LGBTQ people in social sciences classes. That means the educators in the state will play a vital role in driving the creation of LGBTQ curricula for K-12 classes in California and potentially around the country.
- Educators shape first LGBTQ inclusive textbooks in the country
NEAEdJustice.org, February 12, 2018
- Silence is never neutral, Hawaii teacher trains educators to raise their voice for LGBTQIA students
NEAEdJustice.org, April 18, 2018
Building Power in Our Communities
Ready to get active and be the superhero our students deserve in the fight for racial, social and economic justice in public education? Then join the NEA EdJustice League!
What Do You Say?
What do you say to "That's so gay" and other anti-LGBTQ comments? What can caring adults do? Stop it, don't ignore it, educate, and be pro-active!
Support Trans Students
"Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools" offers recommendations and resources based on research and best practices that have been tested in the field.
Jump Start Your GSA
Learn how to establish or re-establish a Gay-Straight Alliance, identify your mission and goals, and assess your school's climate. Jump start your GSA to create safer schools for all!