LGBT(Q)

The Numbers

The following statistics were found here.

 

  • 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students have experienced harassment at school.
  • LGBTQ teens are bullied 2 to 3 times more often than heterosexual teens.
  • More than 1/3 of LGBTQ kids have attempted suicide.
  • LGBTQ kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
  • LGBTQ youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.
  • Nearly 30% of all attempted suicides have been related to sexual identity crisie.
  • LGBTQ students are 5 times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation.
  • About 28% of those kids drop out of school altogether.

 

Although more and more schools are working to crack down on problems with bullying, teens are still continuing to bully each other due to sexual orientation and other factors.

 

Out of all the LGBTQ youth who report being bullied almost half have reported being physically harassed followed by another quarter that reported actually being physically assaulted.  Unfortunately, most teens that experience bullying of any kind are reluctant to share their experience or report the incident to a teacher or trusted adult. Even more unfortunate are the gay statistics that report a lack of response among teachers and school administration. According to a recent statistic, out of the students that did report a harassment or bullying situation because of their sexuality, about one third of the school staff did nothing to resolve the issue.

 

Clearly, schools and communities must take action to combat LGBT Bullying.

Support groups can help.  All bully prevention programs should make special mention of LGBTQ issues.

 

Gay-Straight Alliances, or GSAs, are student-led and student-organized school clubs that aim to create a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. GSAs provide a supportive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, as well as those who are perceived by others to be LGBT, are questioning their identity, have LGBT friends or family members, or just care about LGBT issues.

 

To date there are 4000 GSAs in high schools across the country. To start your own GSA, the ACLU has provided these tips.

 

1. Be Able to Explain Why You Want to Start a GSA

Some of the people you have to talk to along the way may ask you why you want to start a GSA. That’s not a bad question to ask yourself. Under the law, you don’t have to have a reason to start any non-curricular club. But it’s important to be able to rationally explain your reasons for wanting a GSA to people who oppose you or just want to know more about what the club is all about. Is anti-gay harassment a problem at your school? Do LGBT students or allies who want a safe, supportive space where they can be themselves? Those are both really good reasons to start a GSA.

2. Find Out Your School’s Rules for Setting Up a Club

Starting a GSA is just like starting any other school club. Get a copy of your student handbook, and look up your school’s requirements for student organizations so that you can be sure to follow the rules carefully. If it’s not in the student handbook, ask an administrator, guidance counselor, or the faculty sponsor of an existing club what steps are required to start a club. Some of the things you may have to do are find a faculty advisor or write a constitution or mission statement. Be sure to do everything you’re supposed to do according to the school’s rules.

3. Find a Faculty Advisor or Sponsor

Most schools require that clubs have faculty advisors or sponsors. And even if your school doesn’t require one, it’s not a bad idea to have one. Ask a teacher (or, if your school allows them to be club sponsors, a staff member like a counselor or librarian) who has shown herself or himself to be supportive of LGBT students to be the advisor or sponsor for your GSA. Your faculty advisor can help with things like writing a constitution and explaining why you want to start a GSA to others. Keep in mind that if your school isn’t very friendly to the idea of a GSA, some teachers who want to help may be more comfortable doing so in a more behind-the-scenes way.

4. Tell the Administration That You Want to Start a GSA

Talk to your school principal or assistant principal and let him or her know that you plan to start a GSA. A supportive administrator can really help you move things along, and if he or she isn’t supportive, then at least you’ll know where you stand, which will help you figure out what to do next. If he or she says that a GSA won’t be allowed, ask why so that you can prepare yourself to address his or her concerns, and tell him or her that preventing a GSA from forming is against the law under the federal Equal Access Act. Be respectful and don’t get into a big fight about it — for now, just make note of what reasons he or she gives you. You can take the time to respond to your administrator’s arguments against forming a GSA in the next step. See “Common Arguments Against GSAs — and Why They’re Wrong” below for responses to some of the reasons school administrators say they won’t allow a GSA.

5. Prepare and Turn In Any Necessary Paperwork

Make sure you follow the rules thoroughly and correctly. If you have to write a mission statement about your GSA, check out some examples from other GSAs around the U.S. This is a good time to address any concerns or arguments your administrator may have brought up earlier. If you anticipate problems with your application, you might want to contact the ACLU now — we can offer suggestions and advice for how to prepare your application to form the club. Keep dated copies of any forms or other paperwork you have to turn in for your club application, and keep notes on when and to whom you turned them in to as well as any conversations you have with school officials about starting the club. Print out and keep copies of any emails you’ve exchanged with school officials about the GSA, too. If your school gives you any trouble later about starting your GSA, then at least they won’t be able to say they’re doing it because you didn’t sign a required form or made some other mistake with your application.

If the School Says No

If your school turns you down, tells you that you have to change the name of your GSA or that it can’t be focused on LGBT issues, tells you that students have to have parental permission to join the GSA when it doesn’t require that for other clubs, or tries to tell you that the GSA can’t do things that other clubs get to do like have a photo in the yearbook or make club announcements, you should contact the ACLU. We might be able to help!

If the School Says Yes…

6. Start Meeting!

Congratulations! Check out our library of resources on LGBT school issues for links to materials that can help you come up with meeting topics and activities and more information on your rights.

If your school denies you the opportunity to start a GSA the ACLU website has answers for the most frequently used arguments here

Other resources for LGBTQ youth and the people who care about them:

It Gets Better

Know your rights! 

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

GLAAD bullying resources

The Trevor Project—can help find support groups and activities

Youth Resource is a website exclusively for gay and lesbian youth

Just the facts about sexual orientation and youth by the American Psychological Association How to start a gay/straight alliance

How to Create Your Own GSA