Lately I have been facilitating a lot of professional development sessions for teachers on building inclusive environments for diverse student populations.
And one thing is clear to me: most teachers want to be as supportive as possible to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) students but aren’t sure how best to do so.
The unfortunate reality is that few schools are safe spaces for LGBTQ students:
- 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
- 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
- 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” frequently or often at school.
- Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
- 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.
- The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.7 vs. 3.1).
- Increased levels of victimization were related to increased levels of depression and anxiety and decreased levels of self-esteem.
- Being out in school had positive and negative repercussions for LGBT students %96 outness was related to higher levels of victimization, but also higher levels of psychological well-being.
As a result, more and more teachers are looking for help in supporting their LGBTQ students, and schools are looking for proactive ways to create a safer environment for students of all sexual orientations.
To try to offer support, I have compiled a list of 10 things teachers can do to create a more inclusive classroom environment for LGBTQ students. Though these can in no way be comprehensive, they are meant to be a starting place for better supporting our LGBTQ students in the classroom environment.