5 Ways Educators and Faculty Can Help Support LGBTQ+ Students
A 2022 National survey conducted by the Trevor Project found that 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Research also shows that students in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience stress and fear in school than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. These fears are associated mostly with verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault because of their sexual identity and/or gender identity/expression.
These statistics continue to be alarming for LGBTQ+ students. Fortunately, educators and faculty are at the forefront of creating a safe and supportive school and campus climate for this community. In this blog, find 5 ways educators and staff can support LGBTQ+ students.
1. Create Safe Spaces, Organizations, and Clubs that Support LGBTQ+ Students
Schoolwide efforts that acknowledge and include LGBTQ+ students can play a big role in promoting a safe and supportive environment. LGBTQ+ student-led clubs and GSAs (Gender and Sexuality Alliances) are spaces where students can receive the support they need and socialize with other students in the community. These safe spaces and clubs are also a way to connect students with supportive adults and peers.
2. Foster Inclusive Representation in Curriculum
Developing lessons that avoid bias and promote positive representation of LGBTQ+ people can encourage a safer school environment for all students. According to GLSEN, LGBTQ+ students attending a school with inclusive curriculum leads to less-hostile school experiences and increased feelings of connectedness to their school community.
LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum benefits all students by promoting acceptance; exposing them to more inclusive accounts of history; and helping them have a better understanding of LGBTQ+ people. It also greatly benefits students in the LGBTQ+ community by validating their existence; reinforcing their value and self-worth; and providing them a safe place for their voices to be heard.
3. Allow for the Sharing of Personal Pronouns
The National Education Association states that when correct names and pronouns are used, suicide rates decrease and feelings of trust and belonging increase. Addressing someone by the incorrect pronoun or name can feel disrespectful and harmful to students in the LGBTQ+ community. Likewise, misgendering communicates to a person that their identity is not important. Learn more about why using the right pronouns matters in this blog post.
4. Develop and Implement Policies that Protect LGBTQ+ Students from Bullying
As a result of bullying, LGBTQ+ students are at risk for depression, suicide ideation, misusing drugs and alcohol, and experiencing sexual violence. Bullying can also have a negative impact on their academics. Schools can support LGBTQ+ students by encouraging respect for all students. Schools can also implement anti-bullying policies that include protection against discrimination, violence, and bullying for actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
5. Build the Capacity of Educators and Faculty with Virtual Training
Providing educators and faculty with evidence-based training on how to best support LGBTQ+ students is another way to foster a safe and inclusive school environment. Kognito’s practice-based training, Step In, Speak Up!, helps to build an understanding and appreciation for the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth and prepares educators and school staff to lead real-life conversations with students to curtail harassment. It also offers support to those who may be struggling as a result of bullying or isolation.
“[Step In, Speak Up!] addressed issues that are sensitive, and it didn’t shy away from difficult conversations. It showed how to address disrespect and taunting in an active classroom situation, as well as how to address the person who is being bullied and how to show and offer them support.” – Learner of Step In, Speak Up!
Step In, Speak Up! teaches PK–12 educators and staff the following:
- Definitions of the LGBTQ+ acronym, the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students, and the importance of creating an inclusive and supportive academic environment
- How to respond when someone makes a biased comment or expresses prejudice toward LGBTQ+ students
- How to respond supportively when a student comes out as LGBTQ+
- Warning signs of distress, including verbal, behavioral, and situational clues
- How to connect students who may be in distress with support services
- Explanation of the school’s available resources to support LGBTQ+ students
“What I liked the best about this training is that it explained the difference between gender and sexuality and how it affects students mentally, in which it provided a video of three students talking and explaining what I need to do in a certain situation.” – Learner of Step In, Speak Up!
Colleges and universities have the ability to develop an inclusive campus community for all by having courageous conversations. Kognito’s interactive training, Cultivating Inclusive Communities, offers faculty and staff a safe environment to practice effective communication skills, create spaces to allow for conversations that foster inclusivity, and contribute to a safe and respectful campus culture.
“The ‘choose your own adventure’ scenario had a lot of plausible responses, and I liked being able to start over and try them out to see how the conversation could have gone. The info guide at the bottom of the screen was helpful for reinforcing the methods discussed in the first part of the training.” – Learner of Cultivating Inclusive Communities
In this simulation, learners hear from virtual coaches as they discuss:
- Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
- Examining diverse perspectives and using inclusive learning materials and language
- How to ask questions that show compassion, sincerity, a genuine desire to connect, and respect for boundaries
- Navigating courageous conversations that create an inclusive campus
“I really liked the portion where I got to act out a realistic conversation related to harmful terminology and inclusive language/behaviors. The ability to “undo” a question and try again was helpful.” – Learner of Cultivating Inclusive Communities
Learn More About Supporting LGBTQ+ Students at Your District or University
Every school district, college, and university can make a meaningful difference in supporting students and preventing bias. Contact us today to learn more about our trainings and how they can help educators and staff better understand and support LGBTQ+ students and foster an inclusive campus community. Request an interactive demo to see a glimpse of the trainings firsthand.