Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2nd half of LGBT Youth in American Schools (Supporting LGBT Youth)

Chapter 3: Federal State and Local Policy Interventions

Some protections for students already exist. The 14th Amendment, Title IX and the Equal Access Act allow students protection from violence and harassment, and also allow them to create gay-supportive clubs at school. Some states have passed more specific laws to stop bullying. Schools should create and enforce nondiscrimination and harassment rules. Teachers have to speak up about any harassment, and can also help by including LGBT culture and history in curriculum.

Gay Straight Alliances have proven very effective in supporting LGBT students, but clear nondiscrimination policies with financing and support from admin, teachers, the community and student leaders is important.

Under the first Amendment, A transgender student’s right to dress in any clothes available to any other student of the same gender identity.

Tells the story of Alana Flores from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill. In the 1990s, she was harassed for three years straight about being a lesbian. Her teachers did nothing to help her and she attempted suicide. Eventually she and other students who had been harassed sued the Morgan Hill Unified School District. In 2003, the Court of Appeals issued a decision that they had violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and needed to improve things at the school.

Sexual Harassment that makes it difficult for a student to learn is covered under Title IX and is another way students can be protected. Schools are only held liable if they are aware of the harassment.
Congress first was given a bill called the Safe Schools Improvement Act that would help fund anti-discrimination policies in 2007. They have yet to pass it, despite the testimony of numerous people who’ve been bullied in school and the parents of students who have killed themselves as a result of bullying.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act would prevent funding of anything on campus that discriminates against LGBT students (or those perceived as LGBT).  This was also held up by Republicans in the Senate.

Chapter 4: School Based Programs and Practices

Gay Teachers have sometimes been afraid to come out because they feel they will be unfairly accused of child molestation (or “recruitment into a homosexual lifestyle” as some have labeled it; despite repeated studies showing there is no connection between the two).

Studies have shown that having an openly gay teacher or other role model is a self-esteem building experience for most LGBT youth.  Gay students with supportive faculty were more likely to come to school, have a higher GPA and go to college. Students who are heterosexual can also benefit for the usual reasons people benefit from diversity.

Teachers mainly fail LGBT youth due to a lack of training.  They should be taught how to recognize someone struggling with gender identity or orientation and to intervene if they’re being bullied.

Several groups offer training for school districts, including the ACLU. Their goals are to get teachers to understand LGBTQ terminology, have empathy for students and understand how to intervene in anti-LGBT bullying. (I’m sure there is a speaker we could get to address this at our school.

One good thing to do is to work important gay writers or historical figures into class when possible, as usually homosexuality is only brought up during HIV/AIDS health class discussions. Suggestions include the Stonewall Riots and James Baldwin. Studies show that this also helps LGBT students feel safer at school.

California tends to do well in studies when it comes to supporting students. The South was the least supportive region for LGBT students.

There’s a lot in the chapter on how to go about starting a Gay Straight Alliance and the numerous benefits. (This seems to be happening at the High School Level more than Middle School, but it’s something to consider).

Chapter 5:  The No Child Left Behind Act and LGBT Students

Standardized tests do not reflect any LGBT history or literature; something that might go a long way to make them feel more included.

Similarly, mandatory internet filtering at many schools rules out learning about gender and sexual identity.

While there is nothing specific about LGBT students, there are some provisions in NCLB that allow for a safe school environment for all students.

Chapter 6: Sex Education, Abstinence-Only Programs and HIV Prevention.  

LGBT Advocates are very opposed to Abstinence-Only education programs. Research shows they are ineffective in preventing pregnancy and STDs. Students from abstinence-only education are just as likely to engage in sexual activity, but much less likely to use contraception or get checked for potential STDs. In addition they tend to reinforce a number of gender stereotypes.

In addition, they often share false information about how HIV spreads and indicate that condoms are only about 15% effective when they are 98% effective. They also make untrue and disparaging claims about gay people. President Obama has largely defunded these programs.

About half of the new cases of HIV are young gay men of color. By keeping these programs, they were failing to prepare young people properly. The more accepted LGBT youth feel also plays a factor. When they are accepted by families and peers, or at schools with things like gay-straight alliances, they are much less likely to engage in risky behavior.

Chapter 7: Issues affecting research on LGBT
This book is a summary of most of the research out there. For political and religious reasons, Congress often refuses to put money towards research on the LGBT community, and there is extremely little on Transgendered students.

Because of the lack of research money to go around, there is not a consistent terminology when it comes to sexual identity and orientation. It’s bad for LGBT people in general and worse for the youth.

This book proposes that there be more research (both quantitative and qualitative), and also some Participatory Action Research, where the LGBT community is deciding the direction the research should go in.

Chapter 8: The Need for research on understudied LGBT populations

Even when studies are conducted, they virtually never focus on LGBT youth of color. There’s been 9, with 0 focusing on transgender youth of color and their issues. There is no literature about LGBT youth in immigrant communities or rural areas. There are many questions to ask about how LGBT youth are affected in different areas. Are LGBT topics mentioned less frequently in rural areas etc?

They propose a series of potential topics for researching, including:
Youth with LGBT parents, teachers attitudes toward LGBT youth and topics, LGBT youth outside of school, the effectiveness of GSAs and other interventions and many others.

Chapter 9: Conclusions and Policy recommendations: Making it better for LGBT youth
At a federal level, the book recommends enforcement of anti-bullying and discrimination laws already in existence. They also encourage Congress to pass a non-discrimination law specific to LGBT youth, comprehensive sex education, hold accountable those who continue to discriminate in Congress, and call out homophobia. Finally, qualified LGBT people should be added to boards and committees that guide the enforcement of these rules. States should essentially do the same stuff, and eliminate “no promo homo” laws that prevent teachers from having age appropriate discussions about LGBT issues with students.

At a school level they should do the following:
School districts should adopt regulations preventing discrimination against real or perceived gender identity and orientation, enforce safety and bullying laws, ensure that staff is culturally competent, allow LGBT teachers to safely come out and be role models for LGBT students, conduct surveys about bullying, support GSAs, include age appropriate books in the library about LGBT figures and allow students to search for LGBT issues online.

They acknowledge again that research on Transgender youth is especially weak, and it needs to be done. Schools and admin need training and to be supportive of students expressing their gender identity.

The final conclusion is that society has to continue to change and be more supportive. Families need to support LGBT children, and it would be nice to see schools, businesses and all of America start to do the same.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Supporting LGBT Students

Here is what I learned from the book "LGBT Youth in America's Schools" by Sean Cahill and Jason Cianciotto so far:

Chapter 1 LGBT Youth: A Critical Population

It is difficult to get figures on LGBT students. A lot of conservative states won’t ask about gender identity and same-sex attraction in surveys. The numbers seem to indicate between like 4 to 6% for LGB students. That may be conservative though because some students may not know their orientation or may be embarrassed to admit it on a survey.

The word Transgender encompasses a few different things

Transsexual: Gender Identity is different than gender assigned at birth; may seek medical treatments such as hormones or reassignment surgery.


Gender non-conforming youth: have looks stereotypically associated with opposite gender assigned at birth,

Also, there are people who don’t identify with either of the traditional genders. Androgynous would be one category.

53% of Transgender students report bullying and harassment (20% more than LGB students). They also can have trouble reconciling their gender identity with family, cultural and religious expectations.

Intersex students have a medical condition that makes their anatomy ambiguous. They can be any sexual orientation or gender identity. In the past, doctors have often performed a surgery and assigned gender. It’s recommended now that you wait and let the kids decide if they want surgery. There needs to be more education about intersex individuals. Many of them live with a sense of shame about their status and fear of people knowing.

A lot of discrimination happens based on going against the stereotypes of your perceived gender. This is something that happens to boys and girls who end up being heterosexual (examples given: An athletic high school girl with a short haircut being called a “dyke” by their peers or a boy who is artistic being called a “sissy”).

What I’ve really taken away from this chapter is that activities should never be related to gender. Even a fairly common term like “tomboy” (something I remember my parents saying about my sister) can be damaging to the psyche of a child, whether they are transgendered, a lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.

The Tricultural experience:
Things are especially difficult for LGBT youth who are also members of a minority group. They can deal with homophobia or transphobia from their culture, racism from the majority culture and a combination of both from society at large. Minorities may even face discrimination in LGBT communities and organizations that are dominated by white people. Or they may choose not to even go, perceiving them as too “white” or not understanding of their community. But basically, more studies are needed to better understand issues for LGBT youth of color.

Also covered are studies that show same-sex parents raise children equal or better to their heterosexual counterparts. It does discuss how children are sometimes bullied for having two moms or two dads. It also showed that surveyed students felt their teachers would react to discriminatory comments about skin color, religion and other things, but not to homophobic remarks. I’d be interested in talking to elementary teachers and see what kinds of insults they are hearing at their level.

LGBT youth are overrepresented in foster homes and in the teenage homeless community. However, they are very resilient, and many transgender students have sparked change in their school or community with protests or court cases. The more supportive a school is, the easier the life of these students become.

Policies like letting same-sex couples attend a dance together can make a big difference. Studies show that LGBT youth score higher on multiple scales of resilience when their school has the following:
 1. Specific anti-harassment policies
2     2. Teachers who intervene when they hear slurs 
       3. A Gay-Straight Alliance or similar club (Is that doable here at ACS?)   
       4. Information and support related to sexual and gender identity.

Chapter 2: A Grave Picture of violence and harassment in schools

This chapter begins with a 6 year old boy being called “faggot” and other terrible stories of children using slurs and equating being gay with something negative. This book does cover all of the country, and I wonder how much of this is going on in our elementary, or if the Bay Area bubble of tolerance that I’m used to extends to kids we teach. I know there’s always going to name-calling but are kids still using insults like that? I haven’t heard anyone say “that’s so gay” in a while, so I’m wondering if kids didn’t grow up hearing things like that as much now. The studies they are basing it off of are also from 2007. I think it’d be important to have discussions about this at all age levels. I remember being happy that last year when we did our mock Congress only two or three kids out of 48 thought that same-sex marriage was wrong. When I first started here, it was much closer to 50/50.

Apparently violence perpetrated against LGBT youth is highest in Middle School.

While Cyber bullying is a problem for all kids, it seems to be used against LGBT students even more.

LGBT students often don’t report what happens to them and when they do, they feel that school officials do nothing to help them.

Sexual harassment is another common occurrence where students are groped, blocked or cornered in a sexual way or otherwise sexually assaulted.

The cost of all of this is frequent truancy and dropping out of school by LGBT youth.  Because of truancy, some LGBT youth have lower grades and test scores etc. They were also less likely to go to college or grad school if they had suffered daily harassment. They are also sometimes drawn to binge drinking or drug use. Suicide is also more common (not from being LGB or T; from the harassment), with about 5% of LGBT youth attempting suicide vs. 1.6% of the heterosexual community. However, they do mention that there might be some problems with these studies.

The conclusion is that this kind of violence, verbal and sexual harassment is a national tragedy that affects students of all gender identities and sexual orientations. It needs to be addressed and teachers and administrators need to not turn a blind eye to this anymore.

PLC - Middle School Math and Study Skills

We discussed a few middle school students and brainstormed some ideas to help them. This included discussion about best practices for time management. Lastly, we talked about a sixth/eighth grade "conflict" during lunch that the homeroom teachers are currently keeping an eye on.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Integrating Technology in PreK

Using the time to continue working on our Blog.  We are pulling information to address on the blog based on questions parents have regarding Pre-K from our feedback from Back to School Night.  We have uploaded parent contact information into Three Ring so we can start testing it out with our families soon.  The Blog using Three Ring home/school connection and authentic assessment will go live later this month. 


1. Watched  http://bie.org/object/video/john_mergendoller_keynote_pbl_world_2014
    - Video describing the gold standard of PBL and how it changed since 2010
2. Started PBL google doc so we can start to share resources easily.
3. Lisa discussed how her PBL lesson is working in her classroom.
4. Other people discussed what project(s) they will be trying in their classroom.

PLC: K-1

Debbie touched base with Theresa from Meals on Wheels to coordinate a time to visit (possibly during DEAR day around 10:00). Brainstormed ideas for the first grade project. Kindergarten will still be doing the placements.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Common Sense Media
Common Sense Education/Common Sense Graphite

Common Sense Education posted a list of the best PD/PLC sites at the link below. 


Common Sense Graphite posts reviews of video games, movies, music and websites that are advertised as appropriate for children and teens. Check it out if you are looking for solid information about a video game, website or any other media for your students or your family.

New Movies in Theaters This Weekend

In the mood for a book-based sci-fi thriller, a gravity-defying drama, or an inspiring documentary? Read our reviews to find out which film is best for your family.