Bullying is a big problem for many students across the country, and LGBTQ+ youth often experience more instances of it than their straight peers. While connecting digitally with others has many benefits for LGBTQ+ youth, it can also result in vulnerability. In the U.S. and globally, half of girls report that they are more likely to be harassed through social media than on the street. Of the girls who have been harassed online, 47% have been threatened with physical or sexual violence. According to the CDC, 33% of middle schoolers and 30% of high schoolers have been cyberbullied. According to The Trevor Project, 42% of middle and high school LGBTQ youth report being cyberbullied in the past year. In the same study, 50% of transgender or non-binary youth reported higher rates of cyberbullying compared to 35% cisgender LGBQ students.
There are resources and guidance to consider when supporting LGBTQ+ youth who may face issues like bullying, self-identification and self-esteem, and family issues.
Here are a few resources that can serve as a jumping off point for educators and administrators looking to support LGBTQ+ youth. As always, the laws and by-laws of school districts and local and federal governments vary greatly in how LGBTQ+ youth issues are addressed, so it is important to also check with local experts when possible, to address specific situations that may arise in your institution.
- Know the policies, regulations, and resources available for LGBTQ+ youth in your area, for example:
- Results from the Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) have been interpreted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Title IX Federal laws protect students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Sometimes states will challenge federal laws, but federal laws may ultimately govern protections applied to LGBTQ+ youth.
- Information about protections and state laws across the country can be found through the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Navigator. Maps are featured that include state policy scorecards, non-discrimination disclosures, and trans and non-binary athletic inclusion policies, along with other helpful information.
- Learn how to provide a more supportive and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ youth by requesting kits or downloading them from these organizations:
- Provide proactive support for LGBTQ+ students to counter instances of bullying or cyberbullying in the school environment.
- LGBTQ+ youth report greater incidents of bullying than their straight peers (58% vs. 31%). LGBTQ+ youth also miss more school due to safety concerns.
- Consider starting a Gender-Sexuality-Alliance (formerly Gay-Straight-Alliance) Club at your middle or high school if there is not one already. This Colorado GSA Network Guide has a month by month list of potential activities, events, and team building ideas for each month of the school year.
- The National Education Association Queer+ Caucus provides "I'm Here" badges ($2.00 charge) for educators and administrators at schools to wear with their ID badges. The badges indicate the adult on campus is a safe person to comfortably discuss LGBTQ+ issues at any time, including during instances of bullying or cyberbullying.
- Identify and address cyberbullying proactively in the education setting.
Meta provides a variety of resources to share with families through their education hub: