LGBT Youth in Schools Elaine M. Maccio, Ph.D., LCSW Louisiana State University School of Social Work ACSSW Conference February 11, 2014
Content • What does LGBT mean? • Why is this important? • Who are LGBT youth in schools? • What are some common problems among LGBT youth? • What resources are available for LGBT youth? • What can school social workers do?
What does LGBT mean? • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender • Q = queer and/or questioning • Lesbian and gay (homosexual, same-sex oriented) • Bisexual • Transgender/Gender queer • Transsexual • Androgynous
Why is this important? • LGBTQ youth comprise a substantial portion of the school population. • LGBTQ youth have unique needs. • Few resources exist to meet their needs. • LGBTQ youth are disproportionately the targets of bullies.
Who are LGBT youth? • Approximately 10% of youth in schools identify as LGB, less than 1% as T • Adding in questioning youth increases these figures • 20-40% of homeless and runaway youth identify as LGBT
What are the problems? • LGBT youth are prone to substance use, high-risk sexual behaviors, depression, and suicide. • “72.4% [of LGBT students] heard homophobic remarks…frequently or often at school” 2 • “9 out of 10 LGBT [middle and high school] students experienced harassment at school in the past year” 2 2 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
What are the problems? • “19.9% reported being bullied at school in past 12 months; higher among females (21.2%) than males (18.7%)” 1 • “84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1%...physically harassed and 18.8%...physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation” 2 • 7.7% were “threatened or injured with a weapon” at school in previous 12 months 1 1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2 Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
What are the problems? • “17.5% reported carrying a weapon (gun, knife or club) on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey” 1 • 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students. 2 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2 Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
What resources? • LGBT youth groups • GSAs • PFLAG • GLSEN • NCTE • LTA (LA) • School social workers!
What can I do? Support • Create a safe environment • Facilitate a support group • Start a GSA • Establish a Safe Space program
What can I do? Education • Educate faculty and staff on LGBT issues • Develop lesson plans, activities, or other presentations for the student body
What can I do? Policy • Introduce policies around appropriate and inappropriate language and behavior • Introduce consequences of violating language/behavior policies • Support the local, state, and federal legislation, such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Nondiscrimination Act