Over the last few years, school administrators and various authorities have been increasingly aware that LGBT children are a vulnerable group in schools, and many have enacted measures to ensure that all students feel secure and welcome.
Nonetheless, development is patchy. Many states and school districts do not include safeguards for LGBT students and instructors against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In others, the safeguards that are in place are ineffective or unenforced. Many states and school districts have overlooked transgender and gender non-conforming pupils’ needs, failing to guarantee they get the same academic and extracurricular benefits as their non-transgender counterparts.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) awareness and rights have come a long way since then. Attending school and participating in classes, however, still causes many times of uncertainty, tension, worry, and/or dread for many LGBTQ students.
When compared to their straight and non-transgender counterparts, LGBTQ secondary students have a greater risk of bullying, chronic depression, and suicidal ideation, as well as worse learning engagement and academic performance. Teachers also provided far less social and developmental assistance to LGBTQ pupils. However, the study’s research reveals that if LGBTQ children had the same levels of support and safety at school as non-transgender and heterosexual pupils, discrepancies would vanish or be considerably reduced.
Issues faced by LGBTQ students in schools
Here are the challenges faced by the LGBTQ students while gaining education in the school:
- These students are scared to come out in class, in public, run away from class participation, even in case of privately
- Whether to acknowledge or conceal one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity while speaking with classmates, professors, counselors, and staff outside of class.
- How to react when a fellow student, teacher, counselor, or staff member believes one is heterosexual and engages in “heterosexual discourse” (for example, telling a homosexual male student, “one day you’ll marry a wonderful woman and settle down.
- How to respond when fellow students, instructors, counselors, and staff make insulting, anti-LGBTQ (i.e. homophobic) statements, whether done innocently, humorously, or deliberately.
- How to respond when a fellow student, teacher, counselor, or staff member discovers the LGBTQ student’s sexual orientation/gender identity and begins to “differently” treat the pupil (i.e. more reserved and distant, more impatient and dismissive, or more marginalizing and judgmental).
- How to respond when someone discovers about an LGBTQ student’s sexual orientation/gender identity and starts making unfavorable stereotyped assumptions and/or becomes confrontational. (Relatedly, when being disparaged or bullied because of one’s sexual orientation/gender identity, whether or not to report the incident to campus authorities, and uncertainty about whether school officials would investigate and take the event seriously.)
- When a new platonic friendship develops, there is internal tension over whether to “come out” to the new friend, as well as concern about how the new acquaintance would react.
- Whether the LGBTQ student’s verbal and nonverbal communication will improve after “coming out” to a new platonic buddy of the same gender
Ways to support LGBTQ students: How the school can help
- Teachers and administrators should work together to make existing regulations more effective by implementing safeguards and intervening when bullying or prejudice occurs.
- Make your classroom a “safe zone” by posting stickers or signs on the door. This communicates to kids that you are LGBTQ-friendly and willing to fight anti-LGBTQ statements or harassment. Furthermore, according to the AFT, safe zone stickers inform kids that teachers, counselors, and administrators are “open to discussion of LGBTQ issues in the context of classwork or just in conversation.”
- According to the American Federation of Teachers, school-based extracurricular clubs have the “capacity to alter school atmosphere, address inequalities, and improve student achievement.” LGBTQ student clubs have a lot of potential in terms of “reducing prejudice against LGBTQ students, supporting their well-being, and establishing safe and inclusive school settings.” These organizations offer assistance to LGBTQ kids and can help raise awareness in schools and combat prejudice. They can also guarantee that school rules and curricula are welcoming to all students. Offering to form such a group at your school or becoming an adviser for one that already exists may help guarantee that children have excellent school experiences.
- Teachers may utilize GLSEN lesson ideas on bullying, racism, and diversity to help educate their pupils. In the classroom, students of all ages may use homophobic words or sentiments. It is critical for teachers to communicate to pupils that such behavior is unacceptable. Teaching Tolerance includes an activity guide to assist instructors in dealing with comments like these in the classroom.
- Expert workshops and professional development may assist guarantee that your school is welcoming, safe, and accepting of LGBTQ students. The professional development may help the teachers and students in gaining knowledge on how to deal with bullies and harassment plus providing the best practices in order to ensure that schools are safe and courteous enough.