To feel safe and to feel seen. To feel valued and to feel capable of growth. These are simple concepts—basic pillars of student achievement and the results of good pedagogy.
For many LGBTQ students, these rights remain out of reach.
According to data from GLSEN—an organization that provides resources, research and advocacy in support of queer youth—more than half of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school. Fewer than 25 percent of those students see positive representations of queer people in their classrooms; more than half hear negative remarks about their sexuality or gender identity from school staff. And due to these and other circumstances, LGBTQ students are more likely to miss school, experience homelessness and see their grades suffer.
There is also much hope, but hope requires action. For the LGBTQ students who go to school in a fully inclusive environment—where both curriculum and schoolwide policies value their identities—we see more positive outcomes. These students experience less harassment, feel more valued by school staff and face fewer barriers to success.
We also know that an LGBTQ-inclusive school benefits all students. Seeing LGBTQ identities valued in the classroom, in the curriculum and in day-to-day interactions inspires empathy, understanding and respect. The overall school climate is safer. The lessons on history, literature and culture are more complete. And the dangerous expectations of performed gender roles—from the mask of suppressed emotional expression placed on boys to the unrealistic beauty standards facing girls—can give way to a culture that values all students. With our new guide Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students, we hope to help more schools adopt pedagogy and practices that can help all students feel safe, seen and capable of success. Read this excerpt, download the full guide and be a voice for change in your school this year!