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RUNNING HEAD: Creating Safe and Affirming Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth Creating Safe and Affirming Spaces for LGBTQ Youth Alexandra P. Borleis Towson University Introduction and Rationale
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RUNNING HEAD: Creating Safe and Affirming Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth As the population of “out” LGBTQ+ youth in schools grow, the need for inclusive, safe, and affirming spaces grow as well. This is made evident by the numerous challenges that LGBTQ+ identifying students face that have come to light in the last decade. From punitive responses for harassment and assault wherein students were disciplined for reporting to increased dropout rates, LGBTQ+ students are continuously experiencing the harsh injustices that come from being labeled different within the confines of a system that is supposed to not only help them learn but also provide a safe environment to do so. As social media and society’s understanding of this problem grows, it is important for schools to take charge in making inclusive and beneficial changes to existing policies to protect these students from harm. It is the hope of this paper to better understand the exact problems facing LGBTQ+ youth in schools and what schools can do to help correct them. To do this, I will explore the types of problems LGBTQ+ youth face in schools, the school’s part in these problems, and solutions to these problems. This will be broken down into five parts: Educational Exclusion, Benefits to Inclusion for LGBTQ+ youth, Faculty Responsibility, Overcoming Opposition, and Creating an Inclusive Environment. Educational Exclusion In order to better understand the problems facing LGBTQ+ youth today, organizations like GLSEN have dedicated the bulk of their money and time into researching the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in schools. Every year GLSEN gives out a School Climate Survey though national, regional, and local organizations, such as the Maryland GLSEN Chapter or PFLAG as well as advertisements through social media, such as Facebook, targeted to LGBTQ+ youth currently enrolled in Middle/High School in the United States (GLSEN, 2016). The latest report which spanned from April through August 2017 targeted students aged
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RUNNING HEAD: Creating Safe and Affirming Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth 12 - 18 in grades 6 - 12 with the most students represented in grades 9, 10, and 11. Students completed the survey in all 50 states, DC, and 5 U.S. territories. The report found that many LGBTQ+ students experience a hostile school climate wherein students: felt unsafe or uncomfortable in school, avoided school or school functions, heard homophobic or transphobic speech from classmates and staff members, experienced verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender expression, were physically assaulted based on their sexual orientation or gender expression, experienced a form a cyberbullying based on their sexual orientation or gender expression, were sexually harassed due to their sexual orientation or gender expression,
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