Mission Control in 2021
Did you know?
- 59.1% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 42.5% because of their gender expression, and 37.4% because of their gender.
- 45.2% avoided bathrooms and 42.7% avoided locker rooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
- Almost all LGBTQ students (98.8%) heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) at school. And 91.8% reported they felt distressed because of this language.
- 87.4% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks specifically about transgender people, like “tranny” or “he/she”; and 66.7% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.
- Less than one-fifth of LGBTQ students (13.7%) reported that school staff intervened most of the time or always when overhearing homophobic remarks at school.
- 58.3% of LGBTQ students were sexually harassed (e.g., unwanted touching or sexual remarks) in the past year at school. 60.5% of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it.
At this point of reading, I hope you respond similarly as astronaut Jack Swigert did on April 13, 1970, when he called mission control and said, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
School Counselors, if our mission is to serve, advocate and support all students, we must address the needs of our nonbinary students, transgender students, and LGBTQ population. These horrific survey results from the summer of 2019 should rock us to our core. We have a problem here. We have to do better.
What can we do? A great place to start is to create a safe space for youth to gather, to be themselves, to talk about issues, and to find their voice. When LGBTQ+ students have a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club within their school, the results are unquestionably better for the emotional/ social well-being of our students.
- 70.5% vs. 83.5% reported less likely to hear “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently.
- 39.9% vs. 50.0% reported less likely to hear negative remarks about transgender people often or frequently.
- 16.4% vs. 9.4% were more likely to report that school personnel intervened when hearing homophobic remarks that staff intervened most of the time or always.
As School Counselors we need to be proactive! Implement Tier 1 instruction/interventions, such as provide comprehensive bully prevention lessons. Display an LGBTQ-friendly sign by your office door, letting students know you are a safe person to talk to. Facilitate GSA groups. Advocate for LGBTQ students by facilitating staff training. Respect student pronouns and names. Fight for school policies that provide safety for LGBTQ students. Ensure that non-binary and trans students are not put in the position of being marginalized or excluded (such as male/female division). Campaign for gender-neutral bathrooms. And doggedly advocate at the district level for strict anti-harassment policies.
Engaging youth today is easier than you may think. GLSEN has a great website filled with ideas. https://www.glsen.org. Three that I’d like to share with you are: GSA Clubs, No Name Calling Week and Day of Silence.
- GSA clubs. Check out this link for tips on how to start a GSA: https://www.glsen.org/blog/how-start-community-gsa.
- No Name Calling Week is a super easy event to promote within your school. Its purpose is to educate students and educators K-12 about supporting respect, to end harassment, and reduce bullying. It allows for each student to say, “This is what I want to be called.” This is typically held in January. Consider putting it on your calendar for 2022!
- Day of Silence is a day where students do not talk during the entire school day. The purpose: to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ students in schools. This year, the national event is scheduled for April 23, 2021. You have plenty of time to organize this meaningful event.
Resources for LGBTQ+ students:
The GLBT National Help Center offers free and confidential counseling and resources for LGBTQ callers. 888-843-4564.
Thank you for being Mission Control, offering support and resources to support your LGBTQ students who are in dire need of help during their journey of childhood and adolescence.
OSCA Past President 2020-21
(1) - https://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/NSCS19-111820.pdf