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.

    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

    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

    • The Make It Better Project: A project by GSA Network to give youth and adults tools to fight harassment and bullying and make schools safer for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students right now.

    • 2011 National School Climate Survey: The most recent national survey from GLSEN about attitudes towards LGBT students in our nation's schools, the prevalence of harassment and bullying towards LGBT students, and school safety.

    • Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History: A documentary from our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center about Jamie Nabozny, a Wisconsin student who sued the school that turned its back on him when he was mercilessly harassed and assaulted by classmates because he is gay. Jamie's case set an important legal precedent that protects LGBT students in public school to this day. The 40-minute documentary film is available at no charge to schools and educators.

    • The Principal’s Perspective: School Safety, Bullying and Harassment: A study of 1,580 public school principals by GLSEN in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals which found that half of principals view bullying as a serious problem at their schools, yet they appear to underestimate the extent of harassment that LGBT students experience.

    • Tolerance.org: A website from the Southern Poverty Law Center with lots of information and resources on how to reduce bigotry and bias and foster communities that value diversity.

    • Bullying and LGBT Youth: Facts and statistics from Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) about the harmful effects of anti-gay bullying and harassment in schools.

    • BullyingInfo.org: A website that collects all of the federal government's resources on bullying in one place.

    • U.S. Department of Education "Dear Colleague Letter" on bullying and harassment: An open letter from the federal government that makes it clear that schools have a legal obligation to address anti-gay harassment. The letter includes studies and case law to demonstrate schools’ responsibility to equally protect all members of their student body.

    • Questions and Answers on OCR's Complaint Process: Information from the United States Department of Education on how to file a federal harassment complaint with the department's Office of Civil Rights.

    • How to Report Bullying and Discrimination: A simpler description from GLSEN and PFLAG, explaining the steps involved in making a federal school harassment complaint.

    • California Safe Schools Coalition: Focused on the state of California, but many of this organization's resources could be useful in other states, especially the information at its Tools section.

    • Make It Real: An organizing guide from GSA Network for California students who want to use the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 to reduce harassment in their schools.

    • Safe Schools Coalition: A coalition of organizations based in Washington state that serves schools, students, and parents throughout the U.S., with extra focus on Washington. Their site features training materials, information, and an extensive links section.

    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. A printable PDF version is available here.

    • 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. A printable PDF version is available here.

    • Letter to School Officials about the Day of Silence: A letter to principals and educators explaining the Day of Silence, ways to support students who are participating and obligations schools have to protect students' safety and freedom of speech.  A printable PDF version is available here.

    • Letter to School Officials about Ally Week: A letter to principals and educators explaining the Day of Silence, ways to support students who are participating and obligations schools have to protect students' safety and freedom of speech.  A printable PDF version is available here.

    • 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 prom or homecoming, or that they must wear clothing to the dance that conforms to traditional gender norms. In response, we have written letters to principals and superintendents that students can use to advocate for their rights at prom, homecoming, and other school dances.

    • 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! A printable PDF version is available here.

    • 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.

    • Gillman v. Holmes County School District: 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.

    • 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.

    • Russellville, Alabama School Prom Discrimination: 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/Gender Nonconforming 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.  A printable PDF is available here.

    • 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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