LGBT and Education Policies
There is a widespread harassment and violence on LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) students, but many states is the United States are taking measures aimed at ensuring that schools are safer for all students regardless of their sexual orientations and that of their parents. It is true that children from LGBT couples also face harassment when other children find out that their parents are not straight as their own parents. About eight states have already passed laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment in schools based on the child’s or parents sexual orientation (Sears, 2003). Some factors such as the ethnic background may contribute to the different levels of violence and harassment an LGBT students undergoes, but the treatments are all discriminatory in every culture, especially more conservative cultures like African and some Asian cultures
Schools need to keep up with the speed of cultural changes witnessed among the youth who come out to confess their sexual orientation. The youth have started coming out at a much younger age to talk about their LGBT sexual orientations, and because schools are lagging behind in changing with time, these youths end up paying a heavy price. Children whose parents are LGBT are not spared either, they are constantly facing violence and harassment across all the American schools. Survey carried out by GLSEN (Gay, lesbian and straight education network found that about more LGBT youths go through moments of verbal harassment, almost 42% are physically harassed or violated(“Gay-Straight Alliances”). The survey also discovered that one in every four LGBT student admit to have heard anti-gay slurs form their school’s teaching staff or faculty.
Their resilience and strength has seen then organize themselves and demand for changes in education policies that would ensure that schools are safer and inclusive and mostly this happens without the support of an adult or the people responsible for ensuring all children are protected from unfair discrimination. Even after graduation from high school, these students have continued to create awareness of the violence and harassments that they experience in schools and how it affected their academic performance, and their physical and mental health. In situations where they received assistance from gay-straight alliance advocates, a number of interventions have been made in various schools leading to implementation of safer schools programs, anti-harassment policy, among other support avenues.
Unchecked harassment on the LGBT student could easily lead to rape or other forms of physical attacks. It is true that a number of LGBT students may learn to cope with these kinds of harassments and violence, however many of them end up performing poorly in school, dropping out of school and truancy, getting into many fights in school, embrace substance abuse, and engaging in unprotected sex with other people.
Any form of antigay harassment would always manifest itself in the end as a sexual harassment: the children lose interest in school, loss of appetite, nightmares, anger, sadness, nervousness, and feeling of isolation. It is has now emerged that failing to tackle these issue is not only costly to the victims, but also to the schools (Sears, 2003). A number of students have brought lawsuit against schools for failure to stop the violence and harassment they were going through and all the suits have been settled leading to those schools losing millions.
Many states have therefore seen the need to come up with policies that would prevent any form of discussion on homosexuality in schools. The policies also indicate that it is negative to use the term homosexuality hence prohibits any form of advocacy for or against homosexuality (“Gay-Straight Alliances”). In some states, parents are allowed to excuse their school-going children from any class or assembly that deals with discussion on sexuality, and STDs such as HIV. Good news is that there has been a growing support for alliance between gay and straight people where all are treated equally, implementation of safer schools program, non-discrimination education policies to prevent anti-LGBT harassment and violence in schools.
All the efforts of ensuring that learning institutions are safer for the LGBT does not end there but also seek for ways to make the public be aware of the values of such students in a school community. When such an environment is created in the school then even children whose parents are LGBT would feel free to open up about their family. The use of antigay slurs on fellow children would also come to an end since children tend to label their fellows gay even for just failing to do something they regard to be normal and should be done by everyone, for example a boy who doesn’t enjoy footballs as the rest of the boys.
The story of Thomas McLaughlin
Thomas was a gay teen who was reportedly forced to read a bible in school due to his orientation. He was 13years old at Jacksonville High school. The assistant principle had asked him whether the parents were aware of his gay orientation, when he said no he was given a short time frame to inform his parents about the situations. This was told is a must and if he cannot do it himself the school would do it for him. Thomas later I had to consult with his guidance counselor to help him (Sears, 2003). The counselor instead called the mum and told her that her son was gay. Before all this, the teacher would had discovered that Thomas was gay had given him a letter with biblical citations and quotes to read so that he would understand his orientation condemns him to hell.
The parents accepted their child’s condition but Thomas had hard times at school, not because of his fellow students but from the administration and the teachers .the teachers would threaten and punish him unfairly because they found his being gay ‘sickening’ .the situation grew from bad to worse until it reached a point Thomas was given a bible to read on passages that condemns homosexuality. Attempts by ACLU to change things at the school did not succeed and they moved it to Pulaski County court where the school management was found guilty for violating Thomas’ rights. Thomas made a request that he and others like him, be allowed to attend school as other children without being preached to or expected to tell lies about their real identities. The issue ended with the school forced to pay $25,000 as damages and attorney’s fee.
No Child Left Behind
The act of no child left behind of 2002 has had a major impact on the LGBT children and the existing education policies. Most private schools are excluded from the non-discrimination laws hence making hard for the teaching staff and faculty to openly admit they are gay and want to be gay role models to the children and therefore children are left unprotected. The authorization by NCLB for federal funds to be used on single-sex schools would have a great impact on the LGBT students and especially the transgender (Rights, & Act, 2007). NCLB provisions promote and encourage sexual activity, another problem which should be discussed and solution found so that children are not forced to go through sessions they are not comfortable with.
The curricular which insist on abstinence as the only option until marriage has not been fare either. These curricular has proved to be more hostile to people with HIV/AIDS and gay people. It is therefore very antigay and has sexist messages carrying misinformation about safer sex, HIV risk, and effectiveness of condoms. Education policy on LGBT requires that adults should create safe schools for all children. It is their responsibility to ensure that social institutions are affirming and safe for the small children.
Education Policies Aimed at Protecting LGBT
Education policy has undergone overhaul to ensure that schools and administrators are prevented from discriminating against their LGBT learners. The Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 aims at improving school environments and to reauthorize the No Child Left act (Behind, 2003). The act contains the languages that were used previously in two bills to protect the LGBT learners in schools (“strengthening America’s”). These bills are the Safe Schools Improvement Act which had established the anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies and the Students Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) aimed to prohibit discrimination against LGBT students and anyone else regarded as being LGBT in public schools.
SNDA is similar to the title IX policy of 1972, which had prohibited sex discrimination in all public schools which were receiving funding from the federal government .The act sought to solve the issue of harassment and bullying in schools based on the sexual orientation of a student and no child was to fear going to school due to fear for safety. The introduction of Real Education for Healthy Youth Act aims to authorize to fund sex-education programs, which would include LGBT and would need detailed sex education to incorporate all areas of gender, sexual orientation and gender identity (“Real education”). Sex education materials are not supposed to assume that all learners are non-transgender and heterosexual. States and cities have also come up with their policies regarding the issue of LGBT in schools.
Education policy on transgender
Gender identify: individual’s inner feeling of being either male or female and it happens regardless of the sex one had at birth
Transgender: this term is used to refer to the person whose gender identity is different from the gender they actually had at birth
Gender expression: the use of socially accepted ways to express your gender through behaviors, hairstyles, voice, clothing among others
Gender non-conforming: a person whose gender expression is not as it should be and may behave in ways that shows he or she is from the opposite gender.
The education policy of New York seeks to maintain supportive and safe educational and learning environment for children. It should be free from intimidation, harassment, and bullying regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, weight, disability among others (“Gay-Straight Alliances”). The chancellor’s regulation A-832 for students and A-830 for non-students outlines the procedure to be followed when want wants to a file a complaint regarding an alleged harassment or discrimination on a person who is a transgender or is perceived to be a transgender
School personnel are not supposed to disclose transgender status of any student, unless under certain circumstances. The Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), allows only employees who are concerned with the child’s educational needs to access the child’s file. Disclosure of such information to other students or employees lead to violation of privacy laws and is punishable by law (“Real education”). The transgender child could decide on his or her own who, when and where to discuss his or her transgender status.
Schools are advised to work closely with LGBT students and their families so that they can devise the best method of concealing the child’s status in a way that would for both the family and the school. Consideration made during this stage vary according the child’s age. The decision to reveal status is left to the child because not all children feel ashamed of revealing their status to others (“Gay-Straight Alliances”). In fact some students feel more comfortable when other children know their status. The school and family would only come in to advise peers who have knowledge about the child’s status on how to behave with the student and not to spread rumors on what they have been told.
Each school is supposed to have records of their students which include their gender and their legal names. The school is then expected to address the child with his or her legal name and the gender recorded on the files. In case of absence of legal name, the school would use the gender and name preferred by the student (Sears, 2003). Names on the record must only be changed when the school has received receipts stating that the name change was done according to the laws of the land. Legal name is established from the birth certificate or the court orders.
When a school receives a request for name change, the school would change the name on the record and send the request to the principal where the child studies in case he or she has been transferred.
Names and Pronouns
The transgender student must be referred to by the name that matches their gender identity. No child is expected to use a name ordered for them by a law court (“Real education”). Their school records should just remain the way it was and the school ID issued must correspond to the gender identity of the child.
Sports and Physical Education
Transgender must not be discriminated or given special attention from the others, but should be allowed to get involved in all the activities of their wish or liking (Sears, 2003). The child should be allowed to participate in sports and physical activities in line with their gender identity that they constantly exhibit in school. Participation in highly competitive activities are decided upon according to the child’s current mood and mental status
Locker Room and Restroom Accessibility
While the policy aims at providing support to the transgender students, it also seek to ensure that the support does not interfere with the comfort and safety of other students. The school must therefore consider a number of factors when constructing locker and restrooms. The transgender preference, social integrations, student privacy, reducing stigmatization, student’s age among others are the key issues to consider (“Real education”). Any transgender student who prefers privacy should be allocated rooms as per their availability. This allocation should ensure that the child’s transgender status is protected at all costs.
The dressing code selected by the school must follow the guidelines laid down by the Chancellor’s regulation A-665.the student should be allowed to dress in accordance with their gender identity and as par the dressing codes of the school.
Resource For Transgender Students
The school should ensure that it has resources that might help transgender students or those in the process of transition. Students may have the feeling that they belong to a the opposite gender, the school should have materials that who help the student ascertain the truth and also help the community understand the issue of transgender more clearly by using the resources. The resources should be available to parents who wish to know more about transgender. The materials must be appropriate for different age groups and must be strict on bullying and harassment of the transgender and other LGBT students.
Future Impacts of LGBT Education Policies In School
Education policies focusing on protecting LGBT students and making schools safer for them would create LGBT-inclusive school in the future. Many estates have embraced the idea but the speed of achieving its full implementation would vary with each state. It is recognized that the school environment creates impact on the interaction and learning of students. Teachers and administrators would also wish to have their classes welcoming to the students, yet LGBT students still face harassment and violence.
The successful implementation of these policies would therefore ensure that the interaction, learning, and class experience of the LGBT students are all enjoyable. The new policies empower members of the gay-straight alliance to teach children on diversity and offer support to the LGBT students, policies would therefore ensure smooth collaborations in future for the benefit of the LGBT students.
LGBT friendly policies prepare future where there would be inclusive allies and leaders to promote safe learning environment and positive climates for LGBT students as well as other students (“Gay-Straight Alliances”). The policy affirms positive actions and would take into the future, a culture where people are neither afraid to associate with LGBT student nor cause harm to them, a future where students are not afraid to express to express their real gender identity knowing that it would be respected by others. A world where transgender students are truly not left behind.
The current state of affair for LGBT student needs actionable policy that must be embraced all over the world. Discrimination based on sexual orientation violates other people’s right and hence are things that should be tackled with immediate urgency. The current policies in education sector can be overhauled to cater for the needs of the LGBT so that they are assured of their safety and protection and they attend learning institutions as every child has a right to study in a conducive environment
Behind, N. C. L. (2003). Act of 2001, 20 USCA § 6301 et seq.
Civic Impulse. (2015). H.R. 1706 — 114th Congress: Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2015. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr1706
Civic Impulse. (2015). S. 1094 — 113th Congress: Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s1094
GLSEN. Gay-Straight Alliances: Creating Safer Schools For LGBT Students And Their Allies. Retrieved from http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/Gay-Straight%20Alliances.pdf
Rights, F. E. & Act, P. (2007). US Department of Education. Washington, DC Retrieved from http://www. ed. gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.
Sears, J. T. (Ed.). (2003). Gay, lesbian, and transgender issues in education: Programs, policies, and practices. London: Routledge.