According to data collected by the CDC, it’s estimated that nearly two million American youth aged 13-17 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender—representing a remarkable 9.5% of the total youth population.
What does that mean for educators? It means that, regardless of whether it’s apparent to others, there’s a good chance that at least a few students in any classroom may identify as LGBTQ+. These students are at relatively high risk for becoming the targets of bullies, violence—and even committing suicide. To counter these risks, teachers can provide support to LGBTQ+ students through a variety of means, many of which don’t require knowing who might identify as LGTBQ+ in your classroom.
The following sites offer important information for educators (or anyone who works with young people) about how to create an environment that fosters learning and acceptance among all students, regardless of how they identify. All resources save one are free.
What Does LGBTQ Stand For? (opens in new tab)
Abbreviations are convenient but sometimes confusing. Reader’s Digest brings clarity to the term LGTBQ+ with a brief history and explanation of the meaning, and how it’s developed over time.
Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History (opens in new tab)
Bullied is a 40-minute documentary film that relates a case of anti-gay bullying and one student’s response. Despite its disturbing topic, the movie offers a hopeful message for victims of school bullying. The film kit offered by Learning For Justice includes a DVD of the documentary, viewer’s guide with standards-aligned lessons and activities, as well as additional online resources. The kit is free for use in K-12 schools, schools of education, public libraries, houses of worship, and youth-serving nonprofit organizations.
It Gets Better EDU (opens in new tab)
These useful guides for educators and students feature such titles as “How to Make Your Classroom More LGBTQ-Friendly,” “LGBTQ+ Glossary,” and “ imi: A Mental Health Tool for LGBTQ+ Youth.”
Advocates for Youth Resources & Tools for Professionals (opens in new tab)
Explore curricula for topics such as HIV prevention, sex education, cultural responsiveness, dating violence, and creating safer spaces for LGBTQ+ youth.
Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth (opens in new tab)
The American Psychological Association provides a free PDF primer for principals, educators, and other school personnel that explains the developmental of sexual orientation, efforts to change sexual orientation through therapy or religious ministry, and legal principles concerning the rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. The pamphlet is a collaborative effort of 13 national groups, including the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, and American School Health Association.
Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN): Educator Resources (opens in new tab)
A rich repository of lesson plans, curricula, administrator and professional development guides for those working in K-12 education. Particularly useful are the LGBTQ+-related book recommendations for elementary, middle and high school students.
Wanda Sykes Takes Us Through the History of LGBTQ+ — Now You Know (opens in new tab)
Laughter brings people together, so take a brief trip through LGBTQ+ history with a humorous slant, courtesy of comic Wanda Sykes.
Facilitated LGBTQ+ Blended Learning Course (opens in new tab)
The National Education Association’s online blended learning courses are led by trained facilitators and qualify for professional development credits. Topics include creating a safer space, classroom strategies to mitigate bias against LGBTQ+ kids, employment protections for LGBTQ+ staff, and supporting gender non-conforming students. Courses run from July 18 to August 27th, 2022. Register by July 8th. Free for NEA members; $100.00 for non-members.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth (opens in new tab)
This National Education Association article examines the varied ways educators across the country are supporting LGTBQ+ kids.
What Works for LGBTQ Students (opens in new tab)
Twenty years of data from the National School Climate Survey informs our current understanding of bias against LGBTQ+ kids in schools. This conversation with Dr. Joseph Kosciw, director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Research Institute, explores experiences of students, how new terms emerged into common use, and how educators can support LGBTQ+ kids.
The Role of Gay Men and Lesbians in the Civil Rights Movement (opens in new tab)
A set of four lessons for high school students that investigates the substantial contributions of James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Pauli Murray, and Bayard Rustin to the American civil rights movement.
How to Make Your School LGBTQ Inclusive (opens in new tab)
A super-informative video that explains the benefits of creating a LGBTQ-inclusive classroom, and easy ways for teachers to do so.
- How to Encourage Transgender Students to Pursue STEM Careers (opens in new tab)
- CDC: More Than 1 in 3 High Schoolers Experiencing Poor Mental Health. What Schools Can Do (opens in new tab)
- Best Practices for School Leaders to Support Well-Being (opens in new tab)