Are We Doing Enough to Support LGBTQ Students?

Implementation of policies supporting the LGBTQ students is slow and incomplete.

a group of people on a school bus

Read Time: 2 minutes


A recent study from researchers at the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assessed trends in the implementation of six school-wide policies and practices (listed below) that support LGBTQ students in individual states across the United States.

CDC policies and practices for supporting LGBT students

The researchers also looked at whether health education teachers were receiving professional development to help them better teach LGBTQ students. Finally, they assessed whether the health education curricula contained information on LGBTQ-relevant health concerns, such as HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy. Data was collected using the the CDC School Health Profiles biennial survey. Results from four cycles of this survey (2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014) were analyzed.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire showed increases in the percentage of schools implementing all six policies and additional practices supporting LGBTQ students. Hawaii, on the other hand, showed decreases in the percentage of schools implementing of all policies and practices. Most states experienced a mix of increases, decreases, and no changes on pro-LGBTQ policies. Only safe spaces increased in over half of the states.

Most states saw no change in the percentage of schools providing specialized training for health educators supporting LGBTQ youth and availability of LGBTQ-relevant health education materials. Only about 27% of states had significant increases in the proportion of schools implementing this type of professional development.

The researchers reported being surprised that many schools are still not implementing these policies and practices, noting that the increased public support for LGBTQ individuals does not seem to be translating into school policies overtly focused on supporting the needs of LGBTQ youth. They recommend future research to understand why implementation of policies that support LGBTQ students has been so slow.

Feature image: jglsongs, Gay-Straight Alliance school bus, Seattle Pride 2008 (detail), used under CC BY 2.0