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Home » Student Success » Health & Safety » Mental, Social, & Behavioral Health » Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth

The resources below are designed to increase the educational community's understanding of the challenges our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth face in school. Gender identity and expression are included topics. Please share with us additional school-focused resources.

Protections for Washington's LGBTQ students

  • On February 23, 2017, Superintendent Reykdal published a letter stating that Washington state law continue to protect transgender students from discrimination in school, which includes names and pronouns, dress codes, student participation in sports and physical education, harassment, and students' use of restrooms and locker rooms.
  • As of August 1, 2011, all school districts in Washington are required to adopt state policy and procedure that expressly prohibit the bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity (RCW 28A.300.285). The law also prohibits the harassment, intimidation and bullying of all students. Get more information and download model policies and procedures in the Bullying and Harassment section.
  • The Washington Human Rights Commission protects students-and staff-against discrimination based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, and gender expression and identity:
    • "Sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity. As used in this definition, "gender expression or identity" means having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth." (RCW 49.60.040)
  • Washington's K-12 anti-discrimination law, passed in 2010, prohibits schools from discriminating against students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (RCW 28A.642). The OSPI Equity and Civil Right Office can provide additional guidance.
  • The Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) publishes a Sample Transgender Student Policy and Procedures (3211/3211P)-contact WSSDA for details.

LGBTQ data

  • The 2011 National School Climate Survey demonstrates how school-based support can positively affect LGBT students' school experiences. Results also show how comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment state laws can positively affect school climate for these students.
    • 81.9% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 38.3% reported being physically harassed and 18.3% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
    • 63.9% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.1% reported being physically harassed and 12.4% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.

Federal resources for students, families and educators

School-focused, national organizations

  • GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) - A national organization for educators and students who want to create schools where differences are respected. They support Safe Space training, a Day of Silence event, Gay Straight Alliance clubs, and other resources for educators.
  • PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) - The organization works to achieve equality for all in schools.
  • Lambda Legal Defense Fund - The organization's goal is to create equality for lesbians and gays. They have developed publications on LGBTQ students' rights.
  • Teaching Tolerance is a place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools. Best Practices: Creating an LGBTQ-inclusive School Climate is a guide for school leaders on teaching tolerance for LGBTQ students.

Popular media and the It Gets Better campaign

  • In the fall of 2011, the media covered an unprecedented number of gay and lesbian youth suicides brought on by persistent bullying. Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, responded by uploading a video on YouTube on September 21, 2011, that promised lesbian and gay youth life would be better for them in the future. Since then, thousands of people have uploaded videos promising a better future for lesbian and gay youth, including the President of the United States.

Washington State organizations

  • Safe Schools Coalition was a pioneer in assessing the safety of LGBTQ youth and provides student panels and mediation for schools in Washington.
  • Youth Suicide Prevention Program provides resources and training to help teachers address student depression and prevent suicide. The OUTLoud program is specifically focused on LGBTQ youth.