Library: LGBT Youth & Schools Resources and Links

There's a ton of information about schools issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth both on the ACLU's website and elsewhere on the web, but sometimes it can be difficult to find your way to the resources you need online. We've gathered some of the best information we have plus great stuff from other organizations and websites here to help you find things that can help you learn more about your rights and what you can do to make your school a safer, more welcoming place.

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General Resources
Information from the ACLU

Elsewhere on the Web

Equal Access Act/Gay-Straight Alliances
Information from the ACLU

Related ACLU Cases

Elsewhere on the Web

Harassment
Information from the ACLU

  • Letter to School Officials About Addressing Anti-LGBT Bullying: An open letter to school administrators about why they are legally obligated to protect students from anti-LGBT bullying. You can print this out and give a copy to your school.
  • The Cost of Harassment: A Fact Sheet for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender High School Students: An overview of the nearly four million dollars' worth of successful harassment lawsuits brought by LGBT students against the schools that did nothing to help them. A printable PDF version is available here.
  • Preventing Harassment and Protecting Free Speech in School
    Some opponents of safe schools policies argue that anti-harassment policies restrict students' free speech. This piece explains how it's possible to adopt policies that adequately address harassment and protect free speech.
  • A Model Anti-Harassment Policy for Schools: If your school is considering adding anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies to protect LGBT students, they should consider using the wording in this model policy created by ACLU attorneys to make schools safer.
  • Making Schools Safe: This model training workshop for teachers and administrators is designed for ACLU affiliate offices and other organizations that want to put on trainings to help school districts to combat harassment early-before they wind up facing litigation. The manual contains step-by-step guidance on pulling the program together, including sample agendas, pointers on locating the right people to participate, letters, talking points, and all the additional materials you will need to conduct a successful workshop.
  • Letter Urging Adoption of Safe Schools Policies: An open letter to school administrators about why they should implement anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. You can print this out and give a copy to your school when trying to convince them to add these types of policies.
  • Tips: What You Can Do To Make Schools Safer: A few ideas about things schools, students, and parents can do to reduce harassment.

Related ACLU Cases

  • Boyd High GSA v. Boyd Co. Board of Education
    Our successful defense of a GSA in Kentucky; part of our case was about harassment suffered by LGBT students at Boyd County High School.
  • Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District
    Our successful case against a school district in California where school district employees repeatedly ignored or minimized many reports by the students that they were being abused by others who thought they were gay.
  • Loomis v. Visalia Unified School District
    Our successful case against a school district in California where lesbian and gay students were routinely harassed and some were even forced into a special program for students with behavioral problems.

Elsewhere on the Web

Free Speech/Free Expression/Prom
Information from the ACLU

  • Speaking Out With Your T-Shirt: T-shirts are a common way for students to express their views, and schools often try to censor this form of speech, especially when it's about LGBT people. If you're thinking about wearing an LGBT-positive t-shirt to school and you expect trouble, here's what you should know and what to expect.
  • Letter to School Officials Regarding LGBT Censorship: A letter to principals and educators explaining the legal requirement that schools allow students to wear clothing or accessories with slogans or symbols that express support for LGBT people. You can print this out and give a copy to your school.
  • Prom Resources for LGBT Students: Every year, the ACLU receives calls from students whose schools have told them that they cannot bring a same-sex date to the Prom or that they must wear Prom clothing that conforms to traditional gender norms. In response, the ACLU's LGBT Project has developed letters to principals and superintendents that students can use to advocate for their rights at Prom.
  • Know Your Prom Night Rights! A Quick Guide for LGBT High School Students: There are laws protecting your right to be yourself at the prom, and this handout can help you learn about them so that you too can be safe and have fun on the big night!
  • Who are you taking to the prom this year?: Information on a 1980 case in which a federal court ruled that Aaron Fricke, a student from Rhode Island, had the right to bring a same-sex date to his prom as a matter of his right to free expression. This decision has since been used throughout the nation to guarantee students' right to bring same-sex dates to public school proms and dances.
  • Fricke v. Lynch decision: The court decision in Aaron Fricke's case.

Related ACLU Cases

  • Dublin, Ohio: Not all of our school work goes to court - in this case, an Ohio high school backed down after the ACLU demanded it stop censoring students' t-shirts about gay rights.
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    Gillman v. Holmes County School District:

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    Our successful case against a school district in Florida where a lesbian student reported harassment by her classmates and school officials responded by intimidating and censoring students from wearing anything expressing support for gay rights.

  • McLaughlin v. Pulaski County Special School District: Our successful case against an Arkansas school that punished a 14-year-old for talking about being gay at school.
  • McMillen v. Itawamba County School District: Our successful case against a Mississippi school that canceled the prom rather than let a female student go with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.
  • Myers v. Thornsberry: Our successful lawsuit against a Missouri school that twice punished a student for wearing t-shirts expressing her support for gay rights.
  • Nguon v. Wolf : Our case against a high school that repeatedly singled out a lesbian student for discipline for showing affection towards her girlfriend, even though heterosexual students are routinely allowed to hold hands, hug, and kiss on campus. Part of this case is about the student's right to be "out" at school as a matter of free speech.
  • Paramo v. Kern High School District: Our successful case under California state law against a school district that censored a series of articles in the school newspaper about LGBT students.
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    Ramona, California Harvey Milk Censorship: Our successful challenge to school officials who told a sixth grader she couldn't give a presentation about her report on Harvey Milk, the United States’ first openly gay elected official.

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    Russellville, Alabama School Prom Discrimination:

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    Our successful challenge against a high school that told a lesbian student was told that she could not bring her girlfriend to the prom and that they would cancel the prom before allowing the couple’s attendance.

Elsewhere on the Web

  • First Amendment Center: Research coverage of key First Amendment issues and topics, daily First Amendment news, a unique First Amendment Library and guest analyses by respected legal specialists from the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University.
  • Henkle v. Gregory: Lambda Legal's successful lawsuit against a Nevada school that refused to protect a student from harassment and instead told him to "stop acting like a fag" and that he shouldn't be open about being gay at school.
  • Wikipedia's entry on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Summarizes the details of the amendment and includes the full text of the amendment.

Privacy
Information from the ACLU

Related ACLU Cases

  • Nguon v. Wolf: Our case against a high school that repeatedly singled out a lesbian student for discipline for showing affection towards her girlfriend, even though heterosexual students are routinely allowed to hold hands, hug, and kiss on campus. One of the things the school did to the student was reveal her sexual orientation to her family without her permission.
  • McLaughlin v. Pulaski County Special School District: Our successful case against an Arkansas school that revealed a 14-year-old gay student's sexual orientation to his parents without his permission.
  • Sterling v. Borough of Minersville: ACLU of Pennsylvania's successful case against a town where two police officers threatened to tell a teenager's family he was gay against his will. The young man then committed suicide. A court ruled that the government can't reveal a minor's sexual orientation without permission.

Equal Protection
Related ACLU Cases

  • Nguon v. Wolf: Our case against a high school that revealed a lesbian student's sexual orientation to her family without her permission for showing affection towards her girlfriend, even though heterosexual students are routinely allowed to hold hands, hug, and kiss on campus.

Transgender Student Resources
Information from the ACLU

Elsewhere on the Web

Help for Youth Considering Suicide
Elsewhere on the Web

  • The Trevor Project: A national suicide and crisis prevention resource for LGBT youth, including a 24-hour hotline (866-4-U-TREVOR/866-488-7386), as well as a Q&A forum, a live chat, blog, and many other resources for youth, educators, and parents.
  • Hetrick-Martin Institute: HMI, the home of the Harvey Milk High School, provides multiple resources pages with links to guidance on dealing with bullying and other LGBT youth specific issues.
  • Suicide.org: A non-profit suicide prevention informational and educational resource whose website offers support and links to articles pertaining to LGBT youth suicide. The site's homepage also has links to multiple suicide prevention hotlines (with both talk and text options) and resources for suicide survivors and the family and friends of suicidal individuals.
  • It Gets Better Project: The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.
  • ACLU Staffers' "It Gets Better" Videos: We made our own videos to contribute to the It Gets Better Project, featuring several LGBT staffers from the national ACLU's New York and Washington, D.C. offices.

Web Filtering at Your School

  • Don't Filter Me: Web Content Filtering in Schools: Our campaign to end viewpoint-discriminatory web filtering that blocks access to LGBT-positive web content in public schools.
  • Letter to School Officials Regarding Web Filtering: This letter explains to public schools that using web filtering software the blocks students' access to pro-LGBT websites is illegal and unconstitutional. You can print this out and give a copy to your school.
  • M86 filtering fact sheet: If your public school district uses the M86 web filter and is blocking positive LGBT websites, this fact sheet tells you how to get your school to fix it.
  • Websense filtering fact sheet: If your public school district uses the Websense web filter and is blocking positive LGBT websites, this fact sheet tells you how to get your school to fix it.
  • Blue Coat filtering fact sheet: Blue Coat’s web filtering software has a category called “LGBT.” Blue Coat created this category in 2007 to separate non-sexual LGBT websites from sexually explicit ones, in order to make the non-sexual LGBT content more accessible for students. But some schools and libraries have blocked this category in the mistaken belief that the category was designed to include sexually explicit websites. In order to dispel this confusion, Blue Coat has updated its definition of the LGBT category.  Read about the updates here.

 

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