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Creating Capacity, Promoting Competence: Interventions for LGBTQ Youth Jaclyn Kinsman, MA Kate McGravey, MA Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating Capacity, Promoting Competence: Interventions for LGBTQ Youth Jaclyn Kinsman, MA Kate McGravey, MA Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating Capacity, Promoting Competence: Interventions for LGBTQ Youth Jaclyn Kinsman, MA Kate McGravey, MA Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology NASP 2010, Chicago, IL

2 What do these kids have in common?

3 Some Statistics to Consider… In the 1930s and 1940s, Kinsey reported that 37% of adult men and 13% of adult women had at least 1 sexual experience with a person of the same sex and 4% of men and 2% of women are exclusively homosexual in their behaviors More recently, Sorenson reported that a group of 16-19-year-olds showed 6% of females and 17% of males having had at least 1 sexual experience with a person of the same sex In a large study of junior and senior high school students performed in the late 80s, 25% of 12-year-old students reported feeling uncertain about their sexual orientation. This uncertainty decreased over time, and 5% of 18-year-old students reported questioning their sexual orientation. Garofalo et al, based on a Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted in 1995, found that 2.5% of youth self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual

4 Laws that Protect Nonheterosexual Students and Staff More than 40 states have antibullying laws, but less than a third specifically prohibit bullying on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination in schools, was revised to add explicit reference to gay and lesbian students as also being covered by federal prohibitions against sexual harassment.

5 Risks that non-heterosexual Students Face Subject to harassment and violence at school More at risk for dropping out of school and getting kicked out of their homes Some turn to substance use at an early age (alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs) At-risk for STDs due to the higher likelihood that they will have sexual intercourse and more sexual partners than heterosexual students A study representing a portion of adolescents who will someday identify as lesbian and gay found that compared with heterosexual peers, these adolescents are 2 to 7 times more likely to attempt suicide and 2 to 4 times more likely to be threatened with a weapon at school

6 What can Schools Do? Work towards changing the school culture by making the overall goal to care for youth who are or think they might be gay, lesbian, or bisexual the same as for all youth: to promote normal adolescent development, social and emotional well-being, and physical health.

7 Quick Changes to Put into Practice Right Away Avoid using inappropriate or insensitive remarks or making jokes about sexual orientation or gender Use non-gender specific language whenever possible (for example, dont always assume that the boy in the story plays sports and the girl does the cooking) Possibly put up posters or flyers offering support to nonheterosexual youth and their families If you have personal issues with nonheterosexual students, be prepared to refer students who come to you with any issues to another staff member who can deal with the issue in a sensitive and caring manner. It is important that all students feel accepted.

8 School-Based Interventions Improve School Safety: Schoolwide policy of zero tolerance for anti-gay harassment, hate labels, and slurs should be developed. This should apply to students and staff members. Dispel Misinformation & Affirm Diversity: represent and celebrate diversity & accurate info regarding sexual identity development, sexual minority issues, and famous LGBT individuals should be in the curriculum (Alice Walker, Walt Whitman, Alexander the Great, Margaret Mead, Langston Hughes, etc.). Provide a Support Network for Sexual Minority Students: identify at least one staff member to serve as a resource for LGBT students. Students should know which personnel they can turn to; placing safe zone stickers on doors is a good way to identify where staff members are located. Another possibility is to establish a Gay- Straight Alliance. Prevent discrimination: Creating of a nondiscrimination school policy for sexual minority students and staff members extends additional protections. Be prepared to address controversy: Be sure to engage students, staff, and parents in developing codes

9 GLSEN: The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network An organization that works towards ending the bias against gay and lesbian students in the United States K- 12 schools. It creates learning environments that affirm the inherent dignity of all students, and, in so doing, teaches them to respect and accept all of their classmatesregardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

10 GLSEN: What have they found? Statistics: 70% of GLBT students report physical, sexual, or verbal abuse 90% of GLBT students hear anti-gay comments regularly at school Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are FOUR TIMES more likely to skip school because they feel unsafe Four out of five students who experience anti-gay harassment do not identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender 75% of the nations teacher have not been educated about the needs of LGBT students

11 The Coming Out Process: How Educators Can Help Educators should be aware that the process of disclosing ones sexuality can be a very long and emotional process for the entire family. – Many students face physical/emotional abuse in the process of coming out The process of coming out can be very anxiety-producing for adolescents. Its important to be comforting and to understand that every situation is different – You might encourage students to use specific language if they come to you for advice: The APA suggests I am the same person, you just know one more thing about me now. Note that there are no magic words that will prevent family members from having a negative reaction.

12 Supporting Questioning Students Many adolescents will be struggling with sexual orientation throughout middle and high school without ever coming to a conclusion about their own sexual identity. These students might appear to be heterosexual and even date peers of the opposite sex. Invisible Gay and Lesbian Students: Some students can and will easily hide their sexual orientation and may not bring the issue up, even if they are struggling with sexual identity. They may not feel safe discussing their questions to adults or peers for fear of being labeled or discriminated against. In order to make sure that no student is getting hurt by anti-gay remarks, its important to always promote a safe and accepting environment for students. Dont assume that everyone is heterosexual. Rather than asking do you have a boyfriend? or do you have a girlfriend? one can be more sensitive by asking Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend or simply, Are you dating anyone? Refer to parents, not just mother and father. Being open-minded in questions shows students that you are willing to talk to them about whatever they might be struggling with.

13 Race & Culture: How Does it Affect Nonheterosexual Students? Nonheterosexual youth of color face additional challenges in consolidating their sexual, racial, and ethnic identities due to multiple stressors and oppressions, access to fewer support systems, and tendency to be less visible. Homophobia within ethnic/racial minority communities is high, and there are often conflicting values between the mainstream culture, ethnic/racial community, and lesbian/gay community.

14 Race & Culture: How Does it Affect Nonheterosexual Students? (cont) May choose/prioritize their alliances, self-identify as bisexual, or not identify themselves as sexual minorities due to their fears of rejecting or stigmatization. If they lack protective factors, they are more likely to become depressed, suicidal, engage in high-risk behaviors (drug/alcohol abuse), and have unprotected sexual activity. – HIV infection rates are VERY high for young men of color who have sex with other men and for young women of color who are sexually active with bisexual young men. – A protective factor that greatly comforts sexual minority youth of color is having an accepting community that does not force them to choose between ethnic/racial, sexual, and gender identities.

15 LGBT is a Culture Being gay is more than who you are attracted to, and a lot of time people forget this Its important to understand that students who are LGBT or questioning are dealing with an identity crisis The most important thing that educators can do is help students feel accepted and create a culture where LGBT and Q students can feel normal

16 Step 1: Educate Teachers 75% of US teachers are not educated on issues that LGBT students face, so the first step in creating Safe Schools for LGBT students is to educate teachers and staff Talk about risk factors (school drop-out, harassment, homelessness, STDs, etc.), little ways to help, LGBT definitions, statistics, etc. Also be sure to include how race affects LGBT students when implementing in a diverse/urban school

17 To get increase teacher buy-in, remind teachers that Title IX prohibits harassment based on sex in education. Teachers must be aware of this law in order to do their jobs to the full extent of the law.

18 Step 2: Educate the Students The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that works towards creating acceptance of LGBT youth while preventing suicide. has a FREE workshop guide for educators that is simple and easy to follow The only cost to schools is the short film, Trevor ($15)

19 The Trevor Project - PSA yKyk yKyk

20 Top 10 Exercise: The Trevor Project Ice Breaker Ask participants to write down the 10 most important things in their life (family, friends, iPod, TV, vision, music, pets, etc.). Have one or two participants discuss their list. Next, ask everyone to cross out 3 of the things that they can do without, if need be. Have one or two participants discuss what theyve crossed out and why. Next, ask everyone to cross out 3 more items, leaving only 4. Have one or two participants discuss their feelings surrounding the exercise so far. Next, ask everyone to cross out 3 more items, leaving only 1. Explain that they all started with a full list of things that are cherished and look forward to having in their lives every day. These are the things that keep us going and keep our lives wholebring fulfillment. Ask them to all cross out the last item. After theyve done this, explain that this is what someone who is suicidal often feels like.

21 The Trevor Project (Cont) Every student in grades 6-12 should attend an assembly about The Trevor Project (separate by grades in large schools) Volunteer school staff learn how to run the program and lead the assembly. LGBT staff are encouraged to come out if they feel comfortable. Show the film after an icebreaker activity and hold a discussion about it. Pass out LGBT and suicide resources to all students and staff so that those who do not feel comfortable taking information are not singled out.

22 Excerpt from The Trevor Project Workshop Guide Describe The Trevor Project: A non-profit organization established to promote acceptance of gay and questioning teenagers and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group. The Trevor Project operates The Trevor Helpline (866.4.U.TREVOR or 866.488.7386), the only national 24-hour, 365-day-a-year, toll-free confidential helpline, for gay and questioning youth up to 24 years of age. Trained counselors answer The Helpline and help youth find local resources, and take important steps resolving the issues about which they have called. (Write the number and website on the chalk board!) All calls are free and confidential, from anywhere in the nation, 24 hours-a-day. The Trevor Project also operates a web-based question and answer forum called Dear Trevor. Dear Trevor is a non-time sensitive, Question & Answer resource for young people with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. The Trevor Project also distributes The Trevor Survival Kit which contains The Trevor Workshop Guide and short film Trevor, to be used together to initiate discussions about sexual orientation, gender identity, suicide and anything that makes one feel isolated and different from ones peers. This is what youre doing today!

23 Step 3: Institute a District-Wide Antidiscrimination Policy that Specifically Addresses the Needs of LGBT Students and Staff In order to protect LGBT students and staff, the anti- discrimination policy needs to include specific behaviors (e.g., name-calling) that are prohibited Students and faculty that break the policy need to be disciplined, and there needs to be a protocol in place

24 Step 4: Establish a Gay-Straight Alliance The 1984 Equal Access Act requires schools to allow a GSA if any other non-curricular clubs exist within the school In order to establish a GSA, students should go through the same procedures that it takes to establish any other club at the school, get an advisor, and establish some guidelines and club goals Students should visit for more guidelines and tips

25 Summary: Establishing Safe Schools for LGBT Youth 1.Educate Teachers and Staff 2.Educate Students Using The Trevor Project 3.Institute a district-wide antidiscrimination policy that specifically addresses the needs of LGBT students 4.Start a Gay-Straight Alliance or other LGBT support group in each school

26 References Baker, Jean M. (2002) How Homophobia Hurts Children. NY: Harrington Park Press. Boston Public Schools. (2008). Boston Public Schools at a Glance 2008-2009. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from Equal Access Act of 1984, S 4071, 20 U.S.C. 4071-74 (1984). Frankowski, B. (2004). Sexual orientation and adolescents. Pediatrics, 113(6), 1827-1832. Retrieved December 11, 2008 from Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). (2008, October 8). 2007 National School Climate Survey: nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students harassed. Retrieved December 11, 2008 from, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). (2009, January 15). Shared Differences examines LGBT students of color experiences in school. Retrieved May 8, 2009, from Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L., & Westheimer, K. (2006). School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 43(5). Retrieved April 24, 2009, from

27 References (cont) How to Start a GSA. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2009 from Johnson, R. (n.d.) Saving our GLBT homeless: the Ali Forney center. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from Li Kitts, R. (2005). Gay adolescents and suicide: understanding the association. Adolescence, 40(159), 621-628. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from PsychARTICLES database. National Center for Lesbian Rights. (2008). Model Policy & Practice Guidelines for Providing Non-Discriminatory Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth in Juvenile Justice Facilities. NCLR. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from 3A11&q=juvenile+justice#1018 Safe Schools Coalition. (n.d.) GLBT Youth. Retrieved April 28, 2009 from, United States Department of Education (2007, June). Title IX: 25 years of progress. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from Van Wormer, K. & McKinney, R. (2003). What can schools do. Adolescence, 38(151), 409-420. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from PsychARTICLES database.

28 Contact Information Kate McGravey Jaclyn Kinsman

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