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.