On October 11, National Coming Out Day will celebrate those who openly identify as LGBTQ+. However, a recent study finds that nearly 40% of LGBTQ+ youth reported living in a community that is unaccepting of them.
In addition, 36% reported having been physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 45% had seriously contemplated suicide.
So how can educators protect the rights of these students in the face of bullying?
Daniel Cinotti, Ph.D., associate professor of school counseling at New York Institute of Technology, trains prek-12 school counselors and educators to advocate for these students by identifying and addressing LGBTQ+ bullying within their schools.
“The bullying of LGBTQ+ students can be as simple as addressing students with the incorrect pronouns in the case of transgender students but can also include physical violence, cyberbullying, and exclusion,” says Cinotti. “Educators, parents, and even students can be trained, in accordance with state laws, to identify these incidents and proactively step in when they occur.”
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more U.S. high school students who self-identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual report being bullied on school property (32%) and cyberbullied (26.6%) in the past year than their straight peers (17.1% and 14.1%, respectively).
“These experiences and stigmatization also place LGBTQ+ students at a higher risk of suicide than their non-LGBTQ+ peers,” notes Cinotti, who also oversees the university’s Mental Health Counseling, M.S. program.
“Any educator or school counselor, regardless of their individual beliefs, is required to step in and be a resource for LGBTQ+ students.”