Children spend eight hours a day, five days a week, at school. Ensuring their safety is one of the most important things a parent can do. For an LGBTQ+ student, there can be additional concerns. Here are a few questions parents can ask their child’s school to verify they have taken steps to make school safe for an LGBTQ+ student.
Are there written policies regarding LGBTQ+ students?
These policies should clearly prohibit discrimination and harassment and apply to both students and staff. The language of these policies should include “actual or perceived,” “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression”. Perhaps most importantly, there needs to be a clear policy for how students and staff should report and respond to incidents of harassment or discrimination.
Do teachers and employees receive training to recognize and respond to anti-LGBTQ+ harassment?
Over the last few years, programs for attaining a teacher’s certificate have begun including discussions of anti-LGBTQ+ harassment. However, teachers and school employees whose certificates predate these programs did not receive this training. Schools need to implement opportunities, or even requirements, for their staff to gain this education.
Do teachers and employees openly show support for the LGBTQ+ Community?
“LGBTQ+ Safe Zone” stickers in an office or classroom are an excellent way for teachers to show support to the LGBTQ+ community. These stickers are easily available and make it clear to students which classrooms are safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students. Parents should ask their children’s teachers to put these stickers up if they do not already have them. Additionally, teachers can show their support by participating, or recognizing participation, in student-sponsored events like GLSEN’s Day of Silence.
Does the school have an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum?
This should be in subjects like history, social studies, civics, English, and health and should include LGBTQ+ discussions on historical and political figures, key events, the facts about sexual orientation, LGBTQ+ films, and books.
Does the school remember and support the needs of transgender students?
LGBTQ+ friendly schools allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms for the gender with which they identify. Additionally, when they provide gender-neutral bathrooms, they do so while being aware that being forced to use these separate bathrooms may make students feel different. If your transgender student is not being protected or treated with dignity and respect, we can help. Giampolo Law Group has been named in the top 25 LGBTQ owned businesses in the Philadelphia Business Journal, so transgender rights are more than a specialization for us—they’re a vocation.
If you are concerned your child’s school is not LGBTQ-friendly, or if you want your child’s school to become even more LGBTQ-friendly, an attorney can help you advocate for your child. Attorneys familiar with the needs of the LGBTQ+ community are an excellent resource to meet with school administrators to discuss what actions can be taken to improve the inclusivity of your child’s school. If this is insufficient to make sure your child is safe at school, your attorney can represent you in any necessary legal action.