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How schools can play an active role in supporting LGBTQ+ students

Posted at 10:21 AM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 13:21:45-04

(KERO) — Psychology research published this year from universities in Florida and Tennessee shows the LGBTQ+ student experience has evolved in the past decade. Not only have social attitudes toward the community shifted, but school policies are changing to foster a more inclusive environment.

But LGBTQ+ advocates say there's still work to be done.

"I wasn't out to myself. I was very much in the closet, like I hadn't really realized that I was queer," said former student David Shill.

Shill grew up going to school in Arizona and Utah. He says he didn't discover his authentic self until two years ago, because the schools that he went to didn't support the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+ activists say there's been a push in the past decade to make schools a place where LGBTQ+ students can thrive by offering resources to staff and faculty.

"It was maybe more individualized to give them resources that they needed to cope. And I feel like the change now, at least in the systems and the school practices where it's been most effective, is really a broader understanding that it isn't about the individual LGBTQ+ student that's still obviously the center and the focus, but really, it's about allyship and building a community where that student can feel like they belong," explained LGBTQ+ activist Ash Beckham.

Moving forward, Beckham says schools need to include the LGBTQ+ experience in the curriculum. And she says if staff and teachers disclose pronouns, it signals to LGBTQ+ students that they're in a safe space, that they have allies, and the school is willing to have conversations about inclusion.