June is officially recognized across the country as National Pride Month to honor the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Set in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, “Pride” is a time to reflect on LGBT history and look towards the future. It is important to acknowledge that this community’s journey to equality is far from finished.
Many LGBT students face hostile school climates across the country. In a 2015 nationwide survey conducted by GLSEN, 8 in 10 LGBT students reported that they attend a school with LGBT-related discriminatory policies or practices. According to a recent report on school crime and safety from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, gay, lesbian and bisexual students are bullied on school property, cyberbullied, experience physical fights, consume alcohol and use marijuana at higher rates than those of their self-identified heterosexual peers. An unwelcoming school climate leads many LGBT students to miss school, earn lower grades than their peers and experience mental health issues.
California made headlines last year with the decision to include LGBT history curriculum in the new History-Social Science Framework. The Trump Administration’s February 2017 “Dear Colleague” letter rolling back Title IX protections for transgender and gender nonconforming students does not affect California students due to California’s state law (AB 1266) that allows students to participate in sex-segregated school activities based on their gender identity rather than the sex or gender listed on their personal student records. California may be considered to be one of the most LGBT-friendly states in the nation, but that does not mean LGBT students do not experience discrimination within our state.
Regardless of personal beliefs, board members are required to ensure that all students in their districts feel welcomed and safe at their school sites. CSBA has gathered a list of resources to assist trustees in their advocacy efforts:
- Updated Legal Guidance: Protecting Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students Against Discrimination (March 2017)
- CSBA Governance and Policy Resources — Bullying
- California Safe Schools Coalition — This broad coalition has published a variety of research briefs that focus on school safety issues for LGBT students.
- Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) — From research reports to professional development and lesson plans, GLSEN offers an array of resources centered around LGBT issues in K-12 education.
- Library: LGBT Youth & Schools Resources and Links — American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate – Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center