LGBTQ+ health and awareness
LGBTQ+ people are all ages. They come from all ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic classes and educational levels. Sexual orientation and gender identity are as unique as each individual. All young people benefit when they learn how to accept their own feelings and respect those of others around them.
LGBTQ+ inclusive education
Teachers, administrators and other school staff are instrumental in creating a welcoming environment for all students. Studies have confirmed that LGBTQ+ youth face a range of increased risks compared with other young people. These include a greater likelihood of victimization, discrimination and violence. A range of poor health and academic outcomes are directly related to such inequities.
Studies have also shown that equitable school curricula—those that explicitly acknowledge the presence of LGBTQ+ students and recognize issues facing the LGBTQ+ community—have a positive effect on all students in a school. This includes fewer homophobic remarks, greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ students generally, and greater school connectedness for LGBTQ+ students.
When we acknowledge and explain the ways that sexual and reproductive health is important to everyone, we enhance personal perception of risk for all youth. LGBTQ+ students participating in such curricula have also reported better mental health and less sexual risk taking.
Exploring gender issues
Support for coming out
Coming out, or announcing one’s sexual orientation and identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning, is a very real question LGBTQ+ face as they come to terms with their feelings. Research has found that coming out, or being out, is associated with feeling less isolated, but it can also lead to harassment and discrimination. It’s of upmost importance that LGBTQ+ youth find the support they need. Family support and acceptance is the most protective factor for the emotional and physical health of LGBTQ+ youth. Youth supported by family are not only more likely to be successful as adolescents, they’re more likely to be successful into their adulthood.
Youth can also find support through GSA groups in schools. Once called Gay-Straight Alliances, these peer groups now are often called Genders & Sexualities Alliances to be more inclusive of all genders and all sexual orientations. These student-run organizations encourage more students to be allies and create school environments that are more welcoming for all students.