Category Archives: School & Education Issues

New Protections for California Transgender Students

While transgender students still face bullying and discrimination at school, a new measure in California may help them achieve a greater measure of equality.  Signed by Governor Brown in August, this measure will help allow transgender students to go to classes, join sports and use the bathroom that matches their gender.  This legally ends the exclusion of transgender students from classes and activities that are appropriate for them.

For more information, see these articles at: The Transgender Law Center, American Progress, The GSA Network

 

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How School Climate Impacts LGBTQ Youth

A new study from New York University entitled “The Effect of Negative School Climate on Academic Outcomes for LGBT Youth and the Role of In-School Supports shows what many of us suspected:  That LGBT students have better grades, attend school more and have better self esteem when the school climate is better.  As Journalists Resource reports, the aspect that most predicted positive, healthy outcomes for LGBT youth in schools were supportive teachers and administrators.  Other predictors of good outcomes were having access to a Gay-Straight Alliance, and a curriculum that included positive images of LGBT people. 

This study helps us connect that school bullying and harassment of LGBT youth has a far reaching impact:  lower GPAs and absenteeism might decrease a student’s chances of getting into a college they want or getting a job that suits them.  It is important for our schools to be safe places for all students to learn, socialize and grow.

Read the full article here.

What’s It Like for Gay Kids in Public Schools?

A great interview by NPR on “Talk of the Nation” with Judy Chiasson with the Office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity at the Los Angeles Unified School District and Eliza Byard, the executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, also known as GLSEN.  Listen to it here.

Judy Chiasson

Two important points are made in the interview.  First is that a safe school for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students is a matter of educational equality.  LGBT students who are bullied at school miss more school than other students and often, therefore, miss out on important educational opportunities.    The other point is that not all LGBT students require the same level of service.  This is important because it emphasizes that being LGBT in itself is not a cause for intervention and resources.  Problems arise from a non-supportive home or school environment and from the homophobic culture that we all live in.  Youth who have supportive families, teachers and friends may only need assistance in clarifying their needs or identity, if that.  Other  youth may struggle with discrimination on different levels.

NPR does a good job of outlining the most important aspects of the youth experience and how some schools and organizations go about making a safer, more equal environment for all youth.

Some advice for parents of young gay men

Parenting young gay men is not always easy. Between working through your own possible issues with his identity, and figuring out how to (and if to) tell the rest of the family, you still end up with concerns. All parents wish to keep their children safe, happy and healthy. Parents want their children to do more than survive, they want them to thrive. This article addresses this and the duty of all parents to provide a supportive, safe environment:

It seems that more gay teens are coming out than there were not too many years ago.  Most gay guys are likely to wait until they are older, perhaps until after they have moved from home, started college or even a career, before they find the courage to share that important aspect of themselves with their family or (in some cases) even their friends.  In fact, a large portion of gay men never come out to one of both of their parents, something that is frequently an issue of great

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regret after a parent’s passing.  A parent need not be enthusiastic about a child’s sexual orientation, whether gay or straight or somewhere in between.  In fact, many of us would prefer to think of our children as totally non-sexual beings as long as possible.  However, a parent does need to be supportive of a child in a number of important ways.

Read the rest at Home and Family.

And, for a beautiful, uplifting essay by a mom of a young gay man, see “My Perfect Gay Son

Think Before You Speak

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Creating a Safe Place for Youth

The national organization, SafePlace works with communities and neighborhoods to create safe places for kids at risk.  Signs placed a restaurants, buses, youth centers, recreation centers and more indicate to young people that this is a safe place to go when in crisis.  They can request help from an employee at the designated safe place who will contact SafePlace.  A SafePlace staff person or volunteer will meet the young person and help them find help and resources.

SafePlace works with all youth and youth issues and can help in setting up safe spaces for LGBTQ youth to find help.  Bullying, harassment and homelessness hit all youth and impact LGBTQ youth particularly hard.  Efforts to create safe spaces for youth must include youth seeking help with sexual or gender orientation.

The Ames Tribune printed an excellent article on the effectiveness of safe space in schools in reducing harassment and bullying of LGBTQ youth in schools.

What is important about this is that it doesn’t take large amounts of money or time to set up a safe place in your community.  Simply indicating to youth that you or your organization is a place to go to obtain help gives youth a way to obtain help that they may not be able to access at home.  This is grassroots assistance at its best.  Visit SafePlace’s website for more information on setting up safe spaces for all youth in your community.  See GLSEN for information on safe space in schools for LGBTQ youth specifically.  See their “safe space kit” to get started.

Amazing Video: Just Say No to “That’s So Gay”

Inspiring message, awesome music by Will.i.am and a connection to the civil rights movement.  What else do you need? Students who are bullied because of their real or perceived sexual orientation are subject to harassment and violence to the point where they miss more school than most other students.  They experience depression, anxiety and traumatic reactions.  It is time to stop stop saying “That’s so gay,” even if you’re not talking about a person.

Colors by Will.i.am

Stand for life
Stand for true
Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Stand for love
Stand for power
Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Stand for me
Stand for you

Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Don’t fall for nothin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Stand for life
Stand for true
Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’