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LARRY SMITH | Special Guest Contributor

School can be a difficult environment for many students, but discrimination makes it especially difficult for young LGBT people.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students suffer from a lack of policies to support them. There is also a failure to implement or enforce the policies that exist. The hostile educational environment that young LGBT people often face is detrimental to their mental health and well-being. They still face physical and psychological risks in too many educational institutions.

Progress over the last two decades

In 2001, a report published in Human Rights Watch titled “Hate in the Hallways: Discrimination Against LGBT Students in American Schools” explained how endemic discrimination existed against LGBT youth in education. He urged school officials and policy makers to pay attention and make changes. Since then, there has been growing recognition that LGBT youth are an at-risk population and that all students should feel welcome and safe when attending school.

However, progress has not been made in all states and school districts. In a number of states, LGBT youth still do not receive the same level of support as other students. In the states of Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Arizona, Mississippi and Louisiana, there are laws preventing teachers from talking about LGBT issues at school.

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Main areas of concern

According to the United States Constitution and basic human rights, all citizens have the right to be free from discrimination. Every citizen has the right to an education. Here are some of the major areas of concern where human rights are violated:

  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Exclusion from school programs and resources
  • Restrictions on LGBT student groups
  • Fanaticism based on sexual orientation and gender identity

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LGBT experiences at school

Young LGBT people often face identity issues, negative messages and a lack of family support. As a result, they are more susceptible to abuse. Teachers may even join in the teasing.

Students find that there is a lack of information about LGBT issues in school libraries. They can’t get the health and wellness information they need like their heterosexual peers. Laws against talking about LGBT issues mean teachers and counselors can’t provide useful information either.

How can counselors counsel LGBT students when they can’t talk about LGBT issues?

Fanaticism against transgender students takes various forms, such as limiting participation in extracurricular activities and restricting access to restrooms and locker rooms. LGBT youth may be made fun of for their style of dress when attending special events like homecoming or even excluded from such events.

A persistent pattern of exclusion and marginalization makes young LGBT people feel unsafe. The feeling of insecurity has an impact on their mental health and their sense of well-being.

Student Alliances

LGBT youth on college campuses can organize gay-straight alliances. They can become supportive spaces and provide important resources for students. However, some clubs still face obstacles from school administrators. This can make it difficult for them to form and operate.

What can be done?

A holistic approach is needed to make school environments more welcoming. Students should be able to socialize with their peers without facing bullying, humiliation or violence.

  • States should repeal laws that prohibit discussing LGBT issues. They must formulate policies to protect LGBT students.
  • Where policies are already in place, teachers and administrators should apply them to make them more meaningful.
  • Teachers and staff should receive training to help them understand the issues faced by LGBT youth. Ignorance is one of the main reasons why they can still discriminate against these students.


Today, there are approximately 20 states that have laws prohibiting bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More states need to pass such laws and ensure they are enforced. States that still do not provide enough support for young LGBT people must reconsider their policies that do not protect human rights.

Schools in the United States are where students are educated, socialized, and served. Unless reforms are made in schools, the attitudes of adult populations will not change.

Larry Smith has been in the writing business for several years and has covered many niches during his experience with different websites and content agencies. He worked hard and with total dedication to reach the position where he is today. He loves when he sees a student got good grades thanks to his writing help and tutorials.

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