Education and the LGBT community

German students demonstrating fighting homophobia

In the recent history of the expansion of LGBT rights, the issue of teaching various aspects of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life and existence to younger children has become a heated point of debate, with proponents stating that the teaching of LGBT-affirming topics to children will increase a sense of visibility for LGBT students and reduce incidences of homophobia or closeted behavior for children, while opponents to the pedagogical discussion of LGBT people to students are afraid that such discussions would encourage children to violate or question religiously or ideologically motivated rejections of non-heterosexuality in private settings (or promote a "homosexual agenda"). Much of the religious and/or social conservative aversion to non-heterosexuality and the broaching of the topic to juveniles tends to occur in regions with a historic demographic dominance or majority of adherents to an Abrahamic religion, particularly the majority of denominations of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, while those who were raised in those religions but advocate or take more favorable/nuanced positions on LGBT issues or are LGBT themselves may often be ostracized from more socially conservative congregations over the issue.

By issue

Organization of students

The pride flag, news articles, and flyers for social events on this high school bulletin board represent the diverse support and advocacy purposes that GSAs serve.

The primary type of organization for representation of LGBT students on campus is the gay–straight alliance. These are organized in order to represent requests by LGBT and straight ally students on campus to the administration and faculty and encourage a safer environment for students.


Main article: LGBT student center

LGBT student centers may be organized as offices of the school's administration that offer paid faculty support to students. They not only support the LGBT community but they promote positivity and equality for their students. Resources are also usually given for any kind of information needed. The center heavily enforces others to be respectful and mindful of one's sexual orientation, pronouns, preferences etc. LGBT student centers are in a way, safe zones for people to not feel judged or criticized. They create an awareness that completely shuts out negatively but welcomes anyone in.

Homophobia vs. Heterosexism

Homophobia and Heterosexism are closely related words, used to represent a fear of equality of the heterosexual population and the LGBT community. Homophobia, for example, is defined by "overt expression of dislike, harassment and even assault" towards the LGBT community.[1] Heterosexuality, on the other hand, describes a sense of entitlement to denounce the superiority of heterosexuality and the need for heterosexuality to be the only sexual orientation. However, homophobia and heterosexism are intermingling, pertaining to the ability to proclaim heterosexuality as "normal" and therefore, homophobia as "abnormal" and "different." Homophobia can also be used to reinforce heterosexism in an institution such as in education as curriculum in schools are based on a heterosexual perspective which increases the need for others to conform to heterosexuality and therefore ignore homophobic acts and comments.[1]

Prevention of bullying

Main articles: Anti-LGBT bullying and Safe-space

The issue of homophobic bullying and violence by students and teachers is increasingly broached by advocates as a reason for the intervention of administration on behalf of LGBT students.

A restorative approach in schools is a way of preventing bullying of LGBT students. Planning committees can be formed by students who want to help educate their peers on LGBT. A restorative response that helped educate students and school staff included a Lesbian and Gay Pride week at an elementary school in Canada in the late 1990s. A student-planned unit on Lesbian and Gay Pride week was composed of a series of events dedicated to educate on LGBT history, diverse family structures, and included guest speakers. Restorative responses help provide welcoming, safe, and equitable environments.[2]

Teaching LGBT history and social sciences

The inclusion of LGBT topics in teaching of history and social sciences are also advocated by topics in order to increase pride and self-respect among LGBT students and reduce shame or self-pity for the lack of emphasis upon famous LGBT persons. Sex education. With regards to the topic, it is somewhat important to acknowledge what it is like to be labeled as LGBT. Often people use words that may relate to the LGBT community with a negative annotation. For example, phrases like "thats so gay" or "you are being a faggot," suggest that being gay is a "bad" thing. The more we allow this kind of communication, it will only continue to be a criticized expression. To some it comes as a relief and sense of empowerment, but others have to deal with the stigma which is attached to LGBT. The common stereotypes of queer include, but are not limited to: sexually confused, pedophiles, and violation of gender roles. [1] Stereotypes help to create the stigma which is cast upon the LGBT community, which in turn results in the marginalization of the group. Labeling can effect others attitudes towards the individual being labeled. The labeling perspective also focuses on the roles of moral entrepreneurs, rule creators and enforcers. These are individuals who create rules and enforce them.[1]

Main article: LGBT sex education

As general sex education often faces fierce opposition from religious congregations which are doctrinally averse to contraception, sex education which includes homosexuality is considered especially egregious among opponents. The matter of sex education often leads more devout Abrahamists to withdraw their children from the school's tutelage, leading to further educational terms which emphasize Abrahamic religious mores, such as abstinence, heterosexuality and monogamy. This aversion is criticized by advocates of sex education who assert that many of the pupils of such education eventually find their own means to those practices or realizations which are expressly forbidden by religious institutions.

As well, sexual education curriculums continuously fails to inform LGBTQ students on crucial health issues that may arise during sexual intercourse.[3] Some of the neglected information reflects on sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV and AIDS, which are commonly enforced upon the gay community through socially accepted stereotypes. Sex ed curriculum also disregards any information pivotal to LGBTQ students in order for schools to avoid tensions with religious groups. Like wise, most of the material presented in schools focus on a heterosexual perspective that encourages "abstinence until marriage,"[4] a typical practice accredited to various religious groups that promote the need of heterosexuality for a healthy sexual life.[4]

Formal event dress and gender identity

Where schools may hold formal engagements such as proms, homecomings and Winter Formals which typically involve set gender roles, issues have arisen with the following:

Various jurisdictions have taken different reactions to such issues, which have resulted in controversy and legal disputes over discrimination by state schools (i.e., the 2010 Itawamba County School District prom controversy).

Queer-inclusive student events

Campus events have been created for LGBTQ students in order to be inclusive of such students and their allies. These include the queer prom and the Lavender Graduation; the latter was first organized by Dr. Ronni Sanlo, then the director of the LGBT Center at the University of Michigan, in 1995.[5]

By region

United States

Historic legal denigration of non-heterosexuality and non-vaginal sexual intercourse (even among heterosexual partners) continues to have a long-running residual effect on the public discourse. The first gay–straight alliances to be established in public schools in the early 1990s faced stiff opposition from faculty, administration and parents of students, with protests and fierce debates over the matter, but GSAs have since been established for middle school students in a number of jurisdictions.

In California, GSAs now number over 762, representing over 50% of California's public high schools. In 2011, the State Legislature passed the FAIR Education Act, which, if signed into law, would make California the first state in the United States to mandate the teaching of LGBT-affirmative social sciences (i.e., LGBT history) in the public school system and forbid discriminatory language in the school curriculum.

One of the pre-eminent organizations advocating for LGBT education and academic rights in the United States is GLSEN.


  1. 1 2 Mayo, Cris (2014). LGBTQ Youth &Education. New York: Teacher College Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-8077-5489-4.
  2. Surviving the Pain and Widening the Circle: Celebrating Lesbian and Gay Pride Week in an Elementary Classroom, by John J. Guiney Yallop
  3. Mayo, Cris (2014). LGBTQ Youth & Education. New York: Teachers College. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-80775489-4.
  4. 1 2[]
  5. "Lavender CC - LGBT". 1995-05-09. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
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