top of page

Support for LGBTQ+ Youth

Although PRIDE month and the school year are coming to an end, it is important to recap on the importance of supporting our LGBTQ+ youth and hopefully better prepare for the years to come.

Affectionate lesbian couple smiling and doodling in journal. Representing happy LGBTQ+ youth that have received LGBTQ+ affirming therapy at Coastal Light with clinician Courtney Cross.

Historical Support for LGBTQ+ Youth

In regard to LGBTQ+ history pertaining to LGBTQ+ youth, in 1990, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) was founded; this educational organization focused on creating a safe and affirming school community for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Support for transgender students really only began around the early 2000s. In 2003, the Horizon Foundation created a fund to support school-based programs which promoted the understanding of transgender individuals. President Obama signed a federal law in 2009, known as the Matthew Shepard Act; this law expanded the federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This was the first federal law to include the protection of transgender individuals.

The United States Department of Education issued a statement in 2011 clarifying that students have a right to form Gay-Straight Alliance, now referred to as Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) groups under the Equal Access Act; school officials were required to provide GSAs with the same opportunities as other school groups.

The Department of Education then issued official guidance, in 2014 to clarify that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX (9), a federal civil rights law. This issue prohibited discrimination against students based on sex/gender in federally funded programs, such as the public school environment.

Sadly, the challenges for the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender students, continues. In 2017, the Trump administration repealed Title IX Obama guidelines which protected transgender students in the United States. Additionally, as of 2022, there are still several states in the United States that do not have any laws that protect LGBTQ+ students, and two states with laws that prevent schools / school districts from incorporating policies that protect LGBTQ+ students (See pictorial below). Furthermore, issues concerning the protection of LGBTQ+ youth / students are currently being discussed in the news, and these issues are a heavily debated topic of discussion with the 2024 presidential candidates, with several of the candidates opposing LGBTQ+ rights.

Image taken from the Movement Advancement Project that depicts states in the US that, as of 2022, do not have any laws that protect LGBTQ+ students, and two states with laws that prevent schools / school districts from incorporating policies that protect LGBTQ+ students. This is concerning for our LGBTQ+ youth.

Pictorial taken from Movement Advancement Project (MAP) website.

Therefore, there is still much that can and should be done in order to respect the rights of LGBTQ+, specifically, transgender individuals, and create supportive and safe school environments for these students.

LGBTQ+ students are at a greater risk for:

Suicidal thoughts/attempts
Worse academic performance
Missing school days due to fear of possible violence
Lower educational aspirations post-graduation

A group of LGBTQ+ students celebrating their unique personalities and enjoying friendship when they have a safe space to be themselves at school.

Some effective methods to support LGBTQ+ students include:

Having the LGBTQ+ community visible/represented in the school building

  • Presence of a GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliance) club

  • LGBTQ+ stickers / flags on designated safe spaces within the school building

Stressing the importance of knowledge and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community

  • Utilizing an inclusive curriculum (one that includes positive representations of the LGBTQ+ community, their history, and events in order to promote a positive academic environment for LGBTQ+ students)

  • Having professional development and bringing in speakers from LGBTQ+ organizations

  • Ensuring that school professionals are proactive, consistent, and committed to communicating the message that, “different is not bad” across all grade levels

Having parental support / receiving positive reactions from parents / guardians

Allowing students to use gender neutral restrooms or the restroom associated with their gender identity

  • Bathrooms and locker rooms are often perceived as the least safe spaces in schools for transgender youth, and thus are often avoided. Therefore, it is important for there to be gender-neutral bathrooms in schools in order to represent safe spaces within the school

  • It is critical that all the students, not just LGBTQ+ students, promote the use of gender-neutral bathrooms. The use of these bathrooms by all the students will prevent LGBTQ+ students from getting bullied for using these bathrooms

Allowing students to have their chosen name in the electronic student database system

Having support from the school leaders

Having / implementing specific transition plans for these students

LGBTQ+ couple on the beach, representing happy clients of LGBTQ+ affirming therapist Courtney Cross, with therapy in North Carolina and therapy in Florida.,

Some Helpful Resources:

If you are searching for an LGBTQ+ affirming therapist, the counselors at Coastal Light are ready to support you and the unique struggles you face. Request an appointment here.

LGBTQ+ affirming therapist Courtney Cross, with online therapy in Florida available, as well as online therapy in North Carolina.

Blog by: Dr. Courtney Cross, PsyD, NCSP, Licensed Psychologist and Coastal Light Clinician LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy in North Carolina & Florida

Coastal Light Logo | Online therapy in  North Carolina and Florida for LGBTQ+ Youth

Here at Coastal Light Counseling & Psychotherapy, we believe in providing a safe space for all who are seeking mental health treatment. We offer therapy in the following states: Virginia | Florida | Pennsylvania | Nevada | North Carolina | & all PsyPact States

Stay connected with Coastal Light Counseling & Psychotherapy through our Instagram as we grow, add clinicians near you, and write about important issues that impact you and those you love!


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page