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We Say Gay: Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth and Inclusive Schools

We Say Gay: Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth and Inclusive Schools

By The ETR Team | February 18, 2022

As an organization committed to advancing health equity, advocating on behalf of communities that experience marginalization and disproportionate inequities is a critical part of our work. We are taking this moment to reiterate this commitment in light of the recent “Don’t Say Gay” House Bill in the state of Florida and similar proposals around the country which further harm LGBTQ+ youth and silence the trusted adults who provide them with safety, education, and resources. 

At ETR, we firmly believe that all youth deserve to safely learn in settings that affirm their whole existence, identities, and lived experiences. And we know that for too many LGBTQ+ students, this is not what they are experiencing in their classrooms and communities. 

GLSEN’s National School Climate Surveys have consistently found an association between victimization on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and a range of adverse educational outcomes, including increased absences, lower GPAs, and a decreased likelihood of pursuing post-secondary education. Anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and bullying are also associated with lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression. LGBTQ+ youth of color who experience both racist and anti-LGBTQ+ victimization were the most likely to skip school due to feeling unsafe, report the lowest levels of school belonging, and experience the highest levels of depression, compared to those who experience one or neither form of victimization. 

Providing safe and affirming environments for all students is not just a matter of respecting differences: it is essential to ensuring all people have the information, skills, and opportunities to lead healthy lives. Creating inclusive curricula and spaces along with utilizing other research-based strategies, such as adopting explicit anti-bullying policies, providing training and support for school personnel, and supporting student-led clubs, all contribute to student well-being and positive school climates.  

There are things we can and must do in our classrooms and health centers to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth receive the same support, resources, and opportunities as their non-LGBTQ+ peers. As part of our commitment to this work, ETR is proud to offer a variety of LGBTQ-inclusive resources such as: 

We recognize there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. ETR will continue to speak out in support of marginalized communities and social justice while developing tools that help our communities advance health equity. We believe that LGBTQ+ youth deserve to be seen and supported, rather than silenced and erased. We are prepared to be an active, engaged partner in creating a culture that mirrors our mission, vision, and values.

—The ETR Team

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