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LGBTQ Students Deserve Safe Schools

BY: Elliott Sylvester
LGBTQ Students Deserve Safe Schools

For many, school can act as a safe, affirming space for young people who don’t have accepting home environments. For others, especially LGBTQ students and those with marginalized identities, school can be a place that is unwelcoming, unsafe, and lacking allies. At its best, school should be a place where every student can thrive, comforted knowing they are accepted for exactly who they are. I remember very clearly the feelings of anxiety I had anticipating homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and racism at school — things that stifled the education of me and my peers.

Hostility is the last thing students need. All students need spaces where they are encouraged to explore, learn, and grow, and LGBTQ students deserve allies in every corner. The Trevor Project research has shown that LGBTQ students who don’t have those affirming spaces are at higher risk of attempting suicide — and the presence of just one accepting adult can reduce suicide risk by 40%. When I was in school, I was lucky to have found not only other LGBTQ peers around me, but a few adults in my community that were earnestly supportive. I found myself in a poetry club and involved in activism. I learned that those communities help me to thrive.

At The Trevor Project, we believe that all LGBTQ young people deserve the chance to succeed and feel comfortable at school. For people who want to better support the LGBTQ young people in their lives, we have several resources to share. First, The Trevor Project is always available, 24/7/365, as an anonymous and confidential place of support for LGBTQ young people via TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat. No problem is too big or too small — we are here and always ready to talk it through.

Also, always available is TrevorSpace, a global online peer support community for LGBTQ young people ages 13-24. Users can meet friends and express themselves, explore forums,get advice, and find resources for everything from going back-to-school to mental health and self care. The Trevor Project also has a wealth of resources on subjects all across the board, from gender identity and sexuality, to creating safer spaces in schools, to coming out, and more. We also have a suite of research that sheds light on a variety of different young LGBTQ experiences, and offer an educational program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations on LGBTQ identity, suicide prevention, and mental health.

When I was in high school, I reached out to The Trevor Project at a time when I was looking for someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay. I only called once, but that experience made a difference. It was a reminder that there is a world outside of the boundaries of my school and home; that I had inherent value as a person; that there would come a time when I would create my own space, my own identity, my own family. I, and everyone at The Trevor Project, wish for all LGBTQ young people to know this, too. No matter what, The Trevor Project is here for every young LGBTQ person who needs us.

Sue Cardenas-Soto is a Copywriter at The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat, or by texting START to 678-678.

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