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Good News for Gay Youth Yet Significant Work Remains

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) recently released the 2011 National Schools Climate Survey examining the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. For the first time, we saw a decrease in biased language and harassment and an increase in access to LGBT-related resources. That

Survey Findings You Should Know:

  • 81.9% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation
  • 84.9% of LGBT students heard
  • 63.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation

What Makes Schools Safer for LGBTQ Students:

  • Having a Gay-Straight Alliance at school
  • LGBT-inclusive curriculum
  • Comprehensive school policies that include LGBT in them
  • Supportive and visible school staff

While every school may not be ready or able to implement all of the interventions, the first thing every educator can do is to take the Bully Free: It Starts with Me Pledge. By taking the pledge, NEA will provide you with the tools necessary to be that visible caring adult. Another excellent tool for increasing your visibility, especially for LGBT students, is GLSEN Safe Schools Kit. This kit will help you make your classroom a safe place for LGBT students.

For those who can and want to do more, there are numerous resources to assist you. One is the Welcoming Schools Program out of the Human Rights Campaign. Welcoming Schools will help you make your elementary school bias free and a welcoming place for everyone passing through the front door. Another elementary school-based program is GLSEN Ready, Set, Respect!

For those in middle or high school there are multiple resources available, again through our partner GLSEN. Additionally a very good guide to effective school-based policies is the Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Noncomforming Studentsfrom the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Finally there is an exciting and extremely valuable conference in San Diego, CA on February 15-17, 2013, Supporting Students, Saving Lives. This is the premier national educator conference on addressing the needs or LGBT students. Join over 600 other committed and caring educators from across the country and globally in supporting and empowering LGBT youth.

What I’ve listed here are just a few of the many excellent resources available for supporting LGBT youth. Our goal at the NEA is to make them available to you through our Bully Free website. Please visit often for new and updated resources!

Paul Sathrum is a Senior Policy Analyst in NEA Human and Civil Rights

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