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Is Your Child's School Safe and Affirming for LGBTQ Students?
This information applies to public schools and in some cases private schools that receive federal funding. If you have questions about your child's rights in private school, contact us. Many students and families wait too long to get help. Don't wait. Advocate for your student's rights today.
Schools have an obligation to keep students safe
- Every New England state has an anti-bullying law. Find information about your state's law here.
- Comments like “That’s so gay!” and anti-LGBTQ slurs are harassment. If it’s mean, teachers should intervene.
- Teachers and administrators should have a plan to address bullying, including cyberbullying.
- See the page on Bullying for suggestions for reporting bullying and getting help if your school does not respond.
- Don't wait: contact us at GLAD Answers if you need help.
Gay-Straight Alliances/LGBTQ Clubs
- The presence of a GSA or other LGBTQ club can make LGBTQ students feel safer.
- Your child's school should allow GSAs to form on the same basis as any other club.
- GSAs/LGBTQ clubs are allowed to choose their own names, and shouldn’t be forced into euphemisms like “The Diversity Club.”
- If you need help getting your child's school to respond to a request to start a GSA/LGBTQ club, contact us at GLAD Answers.
Got LGBTQ Rights? Yes!
LGBTQ students' rights in school.Launch video
- LGBTQ students should be able to freely discuss their identities, including dating and romantic interests, on the same terms as other student. Also, students should feel free to engage in displays of affection on the same terms as other students.
- Your child should be able to access positive LGBTQ websites at school if Internet access is allowed. But school filters often block these sites improperly. You can check your school's Internet filters using our checklist.
- Students should be able to dress in a way that fits their gender identity.
- At Prom or other school dances, LGBTQ students should be able to:
- Attend on the same basis as other students
- Dress according to their gender identity
- Bring a date of their choosing on the same terms as other students, regardless of gender
- Gender identity and sexual orientation should be included in your child’s school’s non-discrimination policy.
- Positive information about LGBTQ people and issues should be included in the curriculum and available in the library.
- Health and sexual education classes should offer information that is inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
- School nurses should be trained to work with LGBTQ youth.
Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Students
Check to see if your school has the following policies. Specific guidance has been established in Connecticut and Massachusetts for the safe and respectful treatment of transgender students. If you live in another state, you can still ask your school to read this guidance in considering their policies.
- Does your child's school have a policy for ensuring that transgender students are referred to by their preferred names and pronouns?
- Does your school have a policy for ensuring the confidentiality of school and medical records?
- Are students able to dress in a way that fits their gender identity?
- Are transgender students able to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity?
- Does your child's school avoid gender-differentiated graduation gowns?
- Are transgender students able to participate in extracurricular activities – including athletics – according to their gender identity?
Beyond the basics…
- Does the school cultivate a safe and affirming enviornment for all students?
- Is the procedure for reporting bullying clear?
- Does the anti-bullying policy list categories including sexual orientation and gender identity?
- Does your child’s school participate in the Day of Silence?
- Is positive information about LGBTQ people and issues included in the curriculum and available in the library?
This information covers your child's rights in school. You may also want to see:
Check It Out!PFLAG
Promotes the wellbeing of LGBT individuals and their families.GLSEN
Works to ensure that LGBT individuals are safe and respected in school.Greater Boston PFLAG
Promotes the wellbeing of LGBT individuals and their families in the Greater Boston area.More Great Resources →