Know Your Rights

LGBTQ Safety & Awareness at School: A Checklist

Does your school take bullying seriously? Does it have real, formal policies against LGBTQ discrimination? Are your teachers and school employees doing their part to create an inclusive environment for everyone? These are important questions that you should know the answers to.

Below is a check list of things that an LGBTQ-affirming school should have in place.

Written policies regarding LGBTQ students. More specifically a clear prohibition of discrimination and harassment, applying to both staff and students. This would include enumeration of “actual or perceived,” “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” among the prohibited bases for discrimination and harassment. This would also include a clear policy for how students and staff should report and respond to incidents of harassment or discrimination. (Check your student handbook.)

Training for teachers and employees. School districts can provide training to faculty and staff to help them recognize and respond to anti-LGBTQ harassment. Information on LGBTQ-inclusive training programs is available from organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (www.glsen.org) and the Anti-Defamation League (www.adl.org).

Teachers and employees who openly show support. Maybe it’s through an “LGBTQ Safe Zone” sticker in an offices or classroom, for example, or participation in student-sponsored events like GLSEN’s Day of Silence. In addition, does your school:

  • Adopt LGBTQ-inclusive curricula?
  • Support LGBTQ-supportive student groups, such as gay-straight alliances (GSAs)?
  • Remember and support the needs of transgender students?

An LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum History, social studies, civics, English and health teachers can include LGBTQ discussions on history political figures, key events, the facts about sexual orientation, LGBTQ films, books and more.

A non-discriminatory website access policy. Valuable online resources for students, especially LGBTQ students, should be made available on the Internet. Does your schools restrict Internet access to these resources? If so, they may be acting illegally—especially if they do not block antigay sites. Contact Lambda Legal at 866-542-8336 or visit www.lambdalegal.org/help if this is the case.