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SAFE SPACE

C R E AT I N G S A F E A N D I N C L U S I V E
E D U C AT I O N

BEING AN LGBTQ ALLY

Why do we need school counselors to be LGBTQ


allies?

OBJECTIVES
1. LGBTQ Terminology Matching Game
2. Highlight research on school climate issues for LGBTQ youth

3. Discuss the importance of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in K12 schools


4. Discuss why PSCs should be GSA advisors or co-advisors

5. Practical application

PAIR SHARE

LGBTQ Matching Game

PAIR SHARE
Identify barriers you experience to creating a safe,
welcoming, and inclusive educational environment
for LGBTQ youth in your school.
What LGBTQ resources are available for students
in your school?
How supportive are parents in your school
regarding LGBTQ issues?
How supportive are administrators in your school
regarding LGBTQ issues?

BARRIERS TO AN AFFIRMING
SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

Professional Literature

PARENTAL CONCERNS
Child safety.
Fear of social stigma is a major concern for parents trying to
accept their childs sexuality or gender identity.

Many parents blame themselves or the other parent for their


childs homosexuality.

Due to a lack of understanding about gay culture, many parents


do not discuss homosexuality with their children and feel isolated
from their children as a result. The parents fear losing their child.

WHAT PARENTS EXPERIENCE


Feelings of anger, guilt, resentment, shame,
embarrassment, and/or disappointment about their childs
sexual orientation.
Mourning the child they thought they had.
Differentiating between accepting and liking the
childs sexual orientation.
Sadness about significant personal losses such as
expectations and dreams for their children, grandchildren,
and of social stigma due to homosexuality.

SYSTEMIC BARRIERS

Lack of Support
Global Societal Obstacles
Apathy
Heterosexism
Harassment
Dealing with Hostility and Opposition
Lack of Youth-Adult Partnerships

2011 GLSEN REPORT SCHOOL CLIMATE


Exposure to biased language
LGBT students often hear homophobic or sexist remarks at
school.
8 in 10 students heard the word Thats gay
Students heard homophobic remarks from school personnel.
School personnel rarely intervened when hearing homophobic
remarks or negative remarks about gender expression.
4 out of 10 students heard their peers at school make racist
remarks often or frequently at school.
Remarks about students not acting masculine enough were
more common than remarks about students not acting
feminine enough.

2011 GLSEN REPORT SCHOOL CLIMATE


School Safety
Feeling unsafe due to harassment
Skipping school due to feeling unsafe
Avoiding unsafe spaces: bathrooms and locker
rooms

2011 GLSEN REPORT - SCHOOL CLIMATE


Experiences of Harassment and Assault at
School
Verbal harassment
Physical harassment
Physical assaults
Relational aggression
LGBT cyberbullying

THREE LEVELS OF LGBTQ HARASSMENT


Interpersonal Harassment
o One or two perpetrators

Group Harassment
o More than two Perpetrators
o Social-psychological effects of mob mentality
o Escalation of aggression

Sociocultural Harassment
o Continuous overt and covert negative and harmful messages
o About LGBTQ persons

Henning-Stout, James & Macintosh (2000)

2011 GLSEN REPORT SCHOOL CLIMATE


Reporting of School-based harassment and assault
Lack of Reporting: The majority of LGBT students who were
harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident(s) to
either school staff or a family member.
Students doubt staf: Among students who did not report
being harassed or assaulted to school staff, the most common
reasons given for not reporting were doubts that staff would
effectively address the situation or fears that reporting would
make the situation worse in some way.
Staf were silent: Only a third of students who reported
incidents of victimization to school personnel said that staff
effectively addressed the problem.

2011 GLSEN REPORT SCHOOL CLIMATE


Efects of a hostile school climate
LGBT students who experienced high levels of in-school
victimization based on their sexual orientation or gender
expression:
Lower GPAs;
Less likely to pursue any post-secondary education;
Three times as likely to have missed school in the past month;
Less likely to feel a sense of belonging to their school community;
Lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of depression.

2011 GLSEN REPORT SCHOOL CLIMATE


School based resources and supports
Lack of GSAs in schools
Lack of access information about LGBT-related topics in their school library,
through the Internet on school computers, or in their textbooks or other assigned
readings.
Lacked positive representations of LGBT people, history, or events in their classes.
Could only identify one school staff member whom they believed was supportive
of LGBT students.
Lacked administrative support
Lacked a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy that specifically included
protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression.

2011 GLSEN REPORT SCHOOL CLIMATE


Utility of School Resources and Supports
LGBT students experienced a safer, more positive
school environment when the following were present:
Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or similar student club;
Taught positive representations of LGBT people in curriculum;
Supportive school staff who frequently intervened in biased
remarks and effectively responded to reports of harassment
and assault;
Comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy existed;
Their school was in a state with a comprehensive antibullying/harassment law that specifically included protections
based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

PAIR SHARE ACTIVITY

Does your school have a GSA?


If so, what is its function? If not, why not?

GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCES (GSA)

GSA Professional Literature

GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCES (GSA)


Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs)
School-based clubs made up of straight, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual
and transgender students with the purposes of promoting sexual
justice, supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
students and their allies, and promoting positive change in the
school climates.
The First GSA
Formed in 1988 by a heterosexual student who wanted to bring
awareness to and educate her peers on anti-LGBT bullying and
harassment.
Who Can Start A GSA?
Under the 1984 Federal Equal Access Act any student is allowed
to form a GSA if a school allows one non-curricular club.

WHAT DO GSAS DO?


GSAs work to increase visibility of LGBT people and issues in their
schools and improve school climate for all students regardless of
their sexual orientation or gender/identity expression.
Educational and activism
Typically participate in GLSEN s Days of Action
Focus attention on sexual justice by working to change the gender and
sexual orientation climate of their schools

In addition to advocating for LGBT students, many have evolved


into organizations with additional purposes:
Counseling/support groups
Social organizations
Advocacy/political organizations

RESEARCH ON GSAS
22% of students (LGBT and non LGBT) report that their school has a GSA
47% of LGBT students report that their school has a GSA
GSAs are less likely to be formed in the South, rural areas, or small towns
52% of students in schools with GSA say that their school has a supportive
environment, compared with 37% of students in schools without GSAs
84% of LGBT students are aware of a supportive adult in schools with a GSA,
compared to 56% in schools without
57% of students in schools with GSAs say that they hear homophobic remarks daily,
compared to 75% of students in schools without GSAs
53% of all secondary school teachers believe that having a GSA in their school would
create a safer environment for LGBT student
(Source: http://glsen.org/sites/default/files/Gay-Straight%20Alliances.pdf):

ARE GSAS EFFECTIVE?


Students are less likely to hear homophobic remarks (Heck, Flentje, & Cochran, 2013; Mayberry
et al., 2011; Toomey et al., 2011)
Empowers members to speak out in both school and community contexts against antigay slurs
(Mayberry el al., 2011)
GSAs can provide a forum for education; rather than just asking students to stop harassment, it
can teach them why its wrong (Hillard, et al., 2014)
Associated with greater levels of school safety, better academic achievement, and increased
comfort with ones sexuality (Heck, Flentje, & Cochran, 2013; Toomey, et al., 2011)
GSAs help to send the message that hate speech and victimization will not be tolerated (Heck,
Flentje, & Cochran, 2013)
GSAs help LGBTQ students identify supportive teachers and staff members (GLSEN, 2007)
GSAs can provide a safe space for heterosexual students to be educated about LGBTQ issues,
and it can provide support for children of same-sex parents (Heck, Flentje, & Cochran, 2013)
The presence of GSAs in schools can lead to lower problematic use of alcohol and lower levels of
depression (Heck, Flentje, & Cochran, 2013).

ARE GSAS EFFECTIVE?


The presence of GSAs is associated with the belief that the school is less
sexually prejudiced in general (Murphy, 2012)
GSAs have been shown to offer protection from verbal and physical
harassment, and lower the rate of victimization of LGBTQ students
(Murphy, 2012)
The political activism involved in forming and participating in a GSA can
be associated with positive identity development (Murphy, 2012)
Schools with GSAs report lower risk of suicide, as well as fewer suicide
attempts (Murphy, 2012)
Involvement in a GSA has been shown to be positively associated with
higher GPAs and greater school belongingness. Furthermore, there may
be a link between GSA involvement and political activeness (Toomey &
Russell, 2011)

PAIR-SHARE

What are potential barriers to creating a GSA?

BARRIERS TO CREATING A GSA


Parent reactions (Mayberry, et al., 2011)
Concerns about job security
Potential advisors may be afraid of losing their job or not being able to gain tenure (Valenti
& Campbell, 2009)

Teachers and administrators


Administrators may and stop the club from forming, lengthen the process to start the club,
or require parental permission to be a part of the club (Fetner, et al., 2012; Murphy, 2012)
Administrators and teachers may incorrectly believe that the purpose of the GSA is to
promote sexuality (Murphy, 2012).

Students
Students who are against having a GSA in the school may vandalize or tear down signs,
put up straight pride signs, or generally be vocal about their displeasure (Fetner, et al.,
2012).

Apathy
The school community might not see the need to create a GSA and thus the GSA will not
have enough members

PAIR-SHARE

At what grade levels are GSAs most appropriate?

SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY


Identify developmentally appropriate activities for
GSAs at the following levels:
Elementary
Middle School
High School

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
School counselors could focus on acceptance and
awareness of different family types (e.g., two moms,
1 parent household, etc.)
Grades K-3 - suggestions to incorporate in a GSA:
No such thing as boy and girl colors and/or boy and girl
games
Families come in all different shape and sizes including two
mommies or two daddy families
Its wrong to call people names for any reason

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Grades 3-6
Create lessons plans about stereotypes and discuss what
it means (resource: www.glsen.org or
www.nonamecalling.org)
Teach about stereotypes and prejudice
Making assumptions: Discuss how you can not tell if a
person is gay or lesbian by how they look or talk

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Teach children to tell others when they hear
someone saying its so gay or thats so gay
how they think of it: unfair, not nice, unkind
When students use these phrases in school try to engage
them in coming up with more appropriate phrases.

MIDDLE SCHOOL
Guidance Curriculum
Explore the common themes gay, lesbian, bisexual and
heterosexuals seek in a relationship
Explore the different beliefs about how a person is LGBT
Include its not because they choose to
Not because they were abused
Discuss healthy relationships

MIDDLE SCHOOL
Curriculum continued
Create a LGBTQ awareness month at the school
Highlight the contributions LGBT people have made in
society
Talk about the reasons we dont learn about LGBTQ
contributions in textbooks
Prejudice
Discrimination
Highlight how other groups have experienced the same type of
discrimination and prejudice

MIDDLE SCHOOL
GSA
Could act as a support group to help students develop a
positive self identity
Have different theme for each month and focus on the theme
for the month by having activities planned for each meeting

Could be start teaching students how to advocate for


themselves and others
Explore the topics of discrimination, prejudice, and
suppression and how people are affected by it

HIGH SCHOOL
Guidance Curriculum
Include teaching about biological sex- the way your body made
Gender identity- who you feel as you are inside- male, female,
both. Neither, flexible
Sexual identity- who you mostly ding sexually, emotionally, and
romantically attractive

Heterosexual- opposite sex


Gay- attracted to other males
Lesbian- attracted to other females
Bisexual- attract to both males and females

HIGH SCHOOL
GSAs
Can become active in advocacy at county, state, and federal levels
Staying current on all civil rights issues
Focus advocating for suppress groups

Can be a support group


Help student develop a positive self including become congruent with their
sexual identity and gender identity
Help students understand and overcome discrimination in schools and society

Can be both advocate and support group


Change themes each month

HIGH SCHOOL
How to keep GSA membership active
- Change themes each month
- Identify strong student leaders
- Try to understand the interest of the group as a whole and
individual students
- Encourage all students in the school to take part in national
theme week
- Day of silence
- No name calling

SAFE SPACES

Break

SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY

Why should school counselors be


advisors or co-advisors to GSAs?

WHY SCHOOL COUNSELORS?


Create better communication between schools and families
Focus on issues pertinent to the child
Involvement of all parties, including those appearing to hold
power within the system: administration, senior members,
or active parents
Providing alternative beliefs and behaviors through ethical
and legal standards
Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., & Diaz, E. M. (2009)

WHY SCHOOL COUNSELORS?


As counselors, we have specialized skills due to
our counseling training. This can be utilized if
members of the GSA need social support or a safe
place to discuss social/emotional issues (Murphy,
2012).
We can easily facilitate communication between
the GSA and administrators (Murphy, 2012)
.
Per the ASCA National Model, school counselors
are to act as advocates and help to create a safe
and supportive school environment (ASCA, 2005).

ROLE PLAY
1.Prevention
2.Speak Out
3. Then, educate
4.Do you educate on the spot or take the offender
aside and educate in private?

ADDRESSING GSA ISSUES


Student: I would like to join the schools GSA.
But I dont want others to know that Im gay.
Is that possible?
Angry parent: I heard my daughter is in some
club for gay students. I dont agree with it and want
to take her out! Why did you not tell me about it?

Unsupportive Administrator: If they want to start


a GSA I will ban all non-curricular student clubs.

ADDRESSING GSA QUESTIONS


Student: I want to start a GSA club. How do you
create one?

Colleague: I have a student who wants to start a


GSA. Im concerned about parental backlash. How
do I address this?

Unsupportive Administrator: If they want to start


a GSA I will ban all non-curricular student clubs.