LGBTQ youth, particularly those living in the Deep South, face many challenges and are often targeted for discrimination, harassment and violence in the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems.
Although school bullying is a severe, nationwide problem, many teachers and administrators are reluctant to intervene or adopt policies to prevent it. And many children don’t report violence or harassment because they believe it either won’t make a difference or will make matters worse.
Through legal action and educational campaigns, we’re working to ensure that school environments are inclusive, equitable and safe for all students.
For example, a settlement in our groundbreaking lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin district – Minnesota’s largest school system – provided a blueprint that schools across the country can use to protect LGBTQ students.
Our Teaching Tolerance project also promotes safe school environments. Its classroom film Bullied has been distributed, free of charge, to more than 50,000 educators across America.
We’ve also taken strong action to defend the rights of LGBTQ students who have encountered school policies or practices that violate their free expression rights under the First Amendment.
Outside the classroom, we’re working to ban the practice of “conversion” therapy, which has been discredited by virtually all major American mental health and medical associations. Many LGBTQ youths have been harmed psychologically and alienated from their families by conversion therapy, which purports to change a person’s sexual orientation. The practice, based on the idea that LGBTQ people have a mental disorder, also promotes a climate of bigotry and discrimination.
We are additionally invested in reducing the discrimination and harassment that LGBTQ youth experience in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Please contact us if you or someone you know is being harassed or denied access to counseling, hormone therapy, or other transition-related health care in foster care, residential facilities, or juvenile detention facilities.
If you're a young member of the LGBTQ community looking for more information on your rights at school and elsewhere, please visit our Know Your Rights page.