“The court talked about self-definition as a part of individual liberty. I think the court’s repeated references to the importance of self-definition and each individual finding his or her own way into who they are, as something that it is an aspect of liberty, is a foundation for continuing to pursue fully equal treatment of transgender people in our nation.”
Mary Bonauto on Safe Space Radio
In schools with Gay-Straight Alliances implemented three or more years ago:
- The odds of homophobic discrimination and suicidal thoughts were reduced by more than half among lesbian, gay, and bisexual boys and girls compared to schools with no GSA.
- There were also significantly lower odds of sexual orientation discrimination for heterosexual boys and girls.
- Heterosexual boys were half as likely to attempt suicide as those in schools without GSAs. (Saewyc, 2014)
The great news is that we know what makes a difference in saving LGBT kids’ lives and creating safer passage for them to a healthy adulthood. Families can find support in becoming accepting. Schools can uphold clear, LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies, support Gay-Straight Alliances or Gender and Sexuality Alliances (school clubs that work to reduce anti-LGBT hate language and harassment), encourage openly supportive faculty, and provide LGBT-inclusive curriculum.
Tools to Implement Solutions:
- How to Start a GSTA
- How to implement/write an explicit non-discrimination policy
- Supporting Faculty and Staff to stop harassment
- Supporting Faculty and Staff to come out
- Inclusive Curriculum
- A National Study of LGBT Educators’ Perceptions of Their Workplace Climate
- Parker J. Palmer, The Courage To Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. Jossey-Bass, 1998.
- Catherine Connell, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom. University of California Press, 2015.
- One Teacher in Ten in the New Millenium: LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better… and What Hasn’t
Discussion questions for Teachers:
- GSTAs and school policies that specifically name sexual orientation and gender identity/expression were both mentioned in the program as being extremely helpful to the safety and well being of LGBTQ youth. How might you help make these active and effective presences in schools and other communities?
- What other supports or resources might also be critical to make schools really safe places – free from biased language and behavior – not only for LGBTQ teens but for all students?
- If you were a friend of a LGBTQ teen, what might you say or do to make the teen feel genuinely supported, safe, and valued?
- What might a peer ally do in school to stand up to biased language and behavior on a daily basis?
- What might a teacher/staff ally do in school to stand up to biased language and behavior on a daily basis?
- What might school staff members do to create safe spaces for LGBTQ teens?
- If you were a friend or ally of a LGBTQ teen, what information, resources, or help might you need to help make this teen feel emotionally and physically safe at school?