Research shows that LGBTQ youth are disproportionately bullied (whether in person or via cyberbullying), verbally and physically harassed, and assaulted in schools by peers and staff. Such hostility has been correlated to lower school performance and psychological and emotional distress, including suicidal ideation and attempt, depression and anxiety.
Many LGBTQ students identify school counselors as the one school staff member to whom they are most likely to disclose concerns related to their sexual and gender identity. Given this reality, school counselors are uniquely positioned to address myths about LGBTQ youth, to advocate for these students and to effect change.
Statistics from a 2015 GLSEN National School Climate survey showed
- LGB students reported higher levels of verbal, physical and sexual violence and bullying than did their heterosexual counterparts
- 98.1 percent of LGB students heard the word “gay” used in a derogatory manner
- 85.2 percent reported verbal harassment
- 34.7 percent reported being physically harassed in the past year
Five Myths that can have an impact on the identity, safety and well-being of LGBTQ youth
- Parents must be informed of their child’s sexual and gender identity
- Gender-neutral facilities are a threat to school safety
- School policies and laws protect all students
- LGBTQ students are safe around all school personnel
- Sex education is inclusive of all students
School counselor training programs emphasize the role of school counselors as agents of change within the school system and professional leaders who must act as allies and advocates for all students. The publication, published by Counseling Today, breaks down specific strategies and interventions that counselors can use to address these myths and increase the safety of LGBTQ students. The authors, including the School of Education and Human Development’s Adriana G. McEachern and Maureen Kenny also discuss a call to action, readiness assessment and intervention formulation.